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Tuesday May 24th, 2016 12:11PM

Surprise tabling disappoints zoning opponents

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - Hall County Planning Commissioners expected to hear two contentious rezoning issues Monday night but one was tabled in front of a large opposition audience.

Applicant Tim Whitmire abruptly asked for his rezoning from Single Family Residential to Planned Commercial District to be tabled and the Commission tabled it until January 6th next year. Whitmire wants to rezone a nearly four acre tract on Mountain View Road to develop a 116 bay boat ramp.

Martha Platt was among 200 people who showed up to oppose it.

"I think as a community we all came out to have our voice heard and we weren't heard tonight," Platt said. "We wanted to let them know we're opposed to it; it's our community and our neighborhood and it's not good for property values."

Jim Graff said the tabling was unexpected but this just gives opponents more time.

"We were ready in force tonight to show our stance on opposing this rezoning," Graff said. "It just gives us an opportunity to get a stronger force. We did not have a lot of time to assemble these people. This buys us time to fight it even harder."

Planning staff recommended approval, stating that while commercial zoning is foreign to the area, the proposed use 'would not emit or attract impacts that will have an adverse affect on adjacent residential properties.'

HANSON GETS A YES VOTE

Planning staff also recommended approval to Hanson Aggregates Southeast LLC's rezoning request to allow a 113 acre expansion of its rock quarry, operating in Hall County since 1953. Commissioners approved it with four votes; one member, Craig Heighton, recused, saying he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest.

Area property holders lined up to oppose it, claiming the expansion would continue damaging and disturbing their homes despite Hanson's assurances they had programs in place to fix buildings and wells if they cause the damage.

"By rezoning this land, you are literally condemning us to live for at least 20 to 30 more years in an earth quake zone," Dr. David Cohen said.

Commission Chairman Don Smallwood said those programs and assurances needed to be a condition for approval.

"We don't want a waiting period, we don't want a lot of time spent for these folks who live there if it's the quarry's fault," Smallwood said.

Hanson attorney Steve Gilliam lined up experts who told the commissioners under state standards the quarry has never caused vibrations strong enough to cause damage to dwellings or wells. Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce CEO Kit Dunlap said Hanson Aggregates was an important economic partner and job provider.
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