While the most controversial item on this past Tuesday's Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board (GPAB) agenda was an 880-unit development on the busy Dawsonville Highway corridor, board members had other issues that generated concern as well. Among them were requests to allow a local auto dealership to construct a helipad, a developer to build a gas station and convenience store and designation of property for soccer fields.
Board says no to helipad request
The owner of Carriage Nissan has several other auto dealerships in north Georgia and likes to use a helicopter for traveling between his business locations.
Carriage North CFO John Kennedy asked for special use permission to land the helicopter at the end of Corporate Drive, the northern end of the applicant’s property.
“We have already applied for inspection and application from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration),” Kennedy said. “We have over a million dollars of insurance coverage. We use the helicopter to go back and forth to Woodstock.”
Gainesville attorney Jim Walters disagreed with the request. He was representing neighboring property owner Mark Hurst of H&T, LLC, and said having a helipad at the end of Corporate Drive would greatly diminish the value of Hurst’s property.
“It’s going to cause him (Hearst) difficulty if he wanted to sell his property…the uses are drastically diminished…there’s a safety issue,” Walters said.
“Once the FAA gets involved they can limit the height of your building and have all kinds of regulations.”
Walters pointed out that Gainesville currently has two helicopter landing sites: one at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and another at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.
“These folks have a heliport within ten minutes of their business. All they have to do is go down Hilton Drive, cross over Atlanta Highway and they’re at the municipal airport which has numerous helicopters,” Walters argued. “This helicopter needs to land at the airport.”
Attorney Rustin Smith agreed with Walters. Smith represented Martin Pecora, owner and president of Cadillac of Lake Lanier, the auto dealership directly across Browns Bridge Road from Carriage Nissan.
Smith said, “This helicopter is already causing a lot of problems…for some time now. The helicopter hovers over a lot of these dealerships. When it flies over…it rattles the walls…rattles the glass to the point that (Pecora) contacted the police…and they did give a citation, I believe, to the pilot or the owner, at least that’s what the police (said) afterward.”
The GPAB sided with the opposition to the special use request and unanimously recommended denial.
Developer denied rezoning request for gas station on Thompson Bridge Road
Montecito Development submitted both a rezoning request and a special use request for the corner property at the intersection of Thompson Bridge Road and Enota Avenue (formerly the site of a Long John Silver’s restaurant) for construction of a Circle K gas station and convenience store.
The GPAB voted unanimously to recommend denial of both requests based upon staff recommendations.
Soccer fields at county fair grounds get formal approval
Soccer fields currently occupy the vacant site of the old Hall County Fair Grounds just off Shallowford Road. While popular with weekend soccer enthusiasts, the use of the 5-acre property as a commercial outdoor recreational facility has never been officially established.
City Planning Manager Matt Tate said, “These (soccer fields) are currently being used, they have been there for some time, and our inspections office came across the fact that they were there and were not permitted.”
Owners of the property agreed to comply with considerations requested by the GPAB staff including limited hours of use and parking standards. The board then unanimously recommended approval of the special use request.
All final decisions on the above rezoning and special use requests - along with other discussed at the May 9 meeting - rest with the Gainesville City Council and will be considered at its meeting on June 6, 2017.