GAINESVILLE - Hall County Planning Commission members Monday night felt there were too many unanswered questions about rezoning a huge tract of land on Highway 365 for planned commercial and residential development, so the developer got another month to come up with answers.
Patrick Clark with BarkerStreet, LLC of Marietta has until December 2nd,the Commission's next meeting, to answer questions about residential access, apartment density and the general impact of his proposed 476 acre development fronting the east side of Highway 365 near the Gateway Industrial Park. Clark wants rezoning for a mixed use master planned community with single family and multifamily homes with commercial and retail space just north of White Sulphur Road.
BarkerStreet wants to put 310 multi-family residential units (280 apartments and 30 town houses) and 186 single-family lots on the tract. The company says it would also include 600,000-square-feet of commercial/office space and that 25 percent of the land will be left as "open space." Commissioners liked the open space but did not care for the apartment density or the 'one way in, one way out' access to the residential part of the project.
Adjacent landowner Jane Hemmer and her son Lee said her family has owned the land for 200 years. She raises cattle and wants her land to remain unspoiled and not impacted by a large development encroachment.
"We love this land," she said. "The north fork of the Oconee River flows through our rich bottom land and it is downstream from this project. My great, great grandfather loved this same land. Its history and its meaning are precious to our family. We would just ask that this project and future projects not impede and prevent us from being able to maintain this space for ourselves and for future generations of this county."
County planning staff recommended rezoning approval with conditions. Among those conditions, the stipulation that the project be developed only if sewer service is available. Clark proposed using Hall County sewer service, if and when it becomes available. BarkerStreet would also pay for any road improvements needed.
Chairman Don Smallwood advised Clark to request a delay.
"You've got a big project, a nice project, but 'we might do this and we might do that' don't get it, you know," Smallwood remarked. "If you want to request for this board to table this I think we would be in agreement to do that."
Clark made that request and the board unanimously approved it.
VERIZON WINS APPROVAL
Verizon Wireless got the go-ahead from planning commissioners to erect a new 195 foot cell phone tower on Allen Drive off McEver Road near West Hall High School and Middle School.
Verizon representative, Atlanta attorney Jennifer Blackburn, explained that an existing tower did not suit the company's needs.
"The nearest tower is a mile and a half southwest, it's owned by T-Mobile, "Blackburn said. "The tower was too short and too far south to cover the intended target area."
Planning Commission staff recommended approval of the Verizon's request to locate on the 38-acre site in a residential area.