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Posted: Tuesday, February 12th 2013 at 9:40pm

Dawsonville Highway tract rezoning approved

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Resident Linda Hawkins
GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board approved by a 6-1 margin a rezoning request made by America’s Home Place for a 25.11 acre site on Dawsonville Highway, changing the zoning classification from primarily R-1 (Residential) to G-B (General Business).

While the property is directly across the highway from the Olive Garden, Cheddars and Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant complex, the rezoning request is diametrically across from the wishes of a vast majority of the residents of the Lakeshore Heights Subdivision.

Lakeshore Heights abuts the rear of the subject property and over sixty homeowners from the established neighborhood were in attendance to express their opposition.

Michael Proulx, President of the Lakeshore Heights Home Owners’ Association, said he spoke for the overwhelming majority of the 200-plus property owners in his community.

"We have a petition of over 200 people…that are demanding that you reject this application," Proulx said as he began a PowerPoint presentation showing the conditions that exist along the neighborhood’s shared property lines with the Home Depot, Office Max, and Best Buy shopping centers.

The trash strewn images of damaged or missing security fence intended to separate Lakeshore Heights from the three shopping areas, "are what history shows us happens…and what we don’t want any more of. People use this area as a dumping ground."

"One of our residents," Proulx continued, "organized a cleanup with someone (from) the city and they pulled out 50 to 60 tires and commodes in just this natural land catch."

Lakeshore Heights resident Linda Hawkins pointed to the Cheddars/Olive Garden complex, citing it as an example of what she felt the developers might do.

"Have you been behind there? Were not those people promised the same thing? That there would be trees planted, that there would be grass put on those slopes?"

"There’s nothing there…there’s nothing on those slopes except wild grass that has come up. There’s a retention pond at the bottom within thirty feet of a house that has murky water in it. This is the same developer that we’re talking about," said Hawkins, apologizing for her high level of passion.

"When you change (zoning) from R-1 to General Business without any phasing, that is wrong," Hawkins argued, saying the planned 246,880 square foot complex needed to be located elsewhere.

Community Development Department Planning Manager Matt Tate said that code enforcement needed to be informed of the conditions mentioned by Proulx and Hawkins, but that his department recommended the rezoning request.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development, Tim Evans, spoke in favor of the application, as well.

"Mr. Tate had mentioned that this has the potential to attract some retail that is not already in our community; but I would say, even more so, that’s not in our region," Evans said.

"This particular project…we did some rough calculations…about $325,000 a year in additional property taxes to the Gainesville City Schools…an estimated $128,000 to the City of Gainesville operations…and $110,000 to Hall County," Evans added.

"We felt like the staff recommendations were very reasonable. It looks like a quality development to us. The developer is a known local commodity. For all those reasons the Chamber supports it."

When the floor was closed to public comment Planning Board member Doyle Johnson said he would like to make a motion, but that he first wanted to relate his own personal experience in a similar situation over twenty five years prior.

"The very first community meeting I ever went to," Johnson explained, "was a Planning and Appeals Board meeting…because our neighborhood was all upset about a developer wanting to put in an Ingles shopping center on Thompson Bridge Road."

"Almost everything you all have spoken about was cited and talked about and feared," Johnson said, pausing to reflect back on the event.

"But none of those things happened," Johnson said. "So I would like to make a motion that we approve this."

Johnson's motion was seconded, and when the vote was taken Chairman Dean Dadisman was the sole dissenting vote.

The measure now goes to the Gainesville City Council for final approval.


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