Oakwood City Council unanimously approved two annexation requests and held first readings for the rezoning requests at their meeting Monday night, despite some comments from a neighbor regarding the use of one of the properties.
The first request was two properties, across the street from each other, on Robinson Drive in Oakwood. Community Development Director B.R. White and City Manager Stan Brown both said the street, which begins at the Zaxby’s off Mundy Mill Road and dead ends, had been transitioning from residential to commercial. The majority of the street was zoned Hall County S-S “Suburban Shopping District," though some parcels were previously annexed into the city of Oakwood as C-1 "Neighborhood Business," which is what Thu Minh Van & Huong Thanh Pham wanted to rezone the two parcels at 3732 and 3733 Robinson Drive.
The use of the properties was "speculative," during the city presentation. One of the properties, 3732, had a back entrance at one point.
During comments, two residents told city council they had lived in a home next door to one of the two parcels since 1974, and they were one of a few truly residential, non-rental properties on the street. Debbie Hall spoke during the favorable comment portion, asking council to consider some of the unknowns they had as neighbors.
"My concern is the kind of property that will be next to me. I am next door to the property in question. Things like, hours of operation. This is our home. Will there be a parking lot? If there is a parking lot, will it be in the back where there is an entrance from Thurmon Tanner Parkway? If that is the case, that property is above my property and a parking pad would cause drainage into my yard."
She also asked them to consider traffic for the children that visit the area, including her own grandchildren and children that visit a neighbor.
"At this point I'd have to say I'm against further commercial development on this street unless I have answers to these questions," she told the council.
Chris Hall spoke briefly during the opposition portion of the comments, after wanting to ask further questions about the development. Public Hearings, however, are designed for the community to provide evidence and opinions to the council, instead of getting further information .
"I think I'm opposed to it because I haven't been able to get any questions answered. Is that fair?" Chris Hall said.
Following public comment, council members asked White for more information about many of the things brought up by Debbie Hall. He was able to tell them that the applicants were considering using one of the properties as an office for a landlord, and the other may be used as an appointment-only, single-chair hair salon. He confirmed the majority of the street was zoned as Hall County S-S, including the neighboring home in question. He also said they likely wouldn't grant the back entrance on the property today, as it was too small.
In the end, the council unanimously approved the application to rezone, the first reading, and the zoning for Thu Minh Van & Huong Thanh Pham.
"That whole street is either commercial in Oakwood, or suburban shopping in the county. It probably has been that way for a number of years, that neighborhood is in a transition, I think ever since Thurmon Tanner Parkway went in. It's sort of in between UNG and College Square Shopping Center, kind of the last little remnant of residential properties that are out there," said Brown. "Although they are own suburban shopping, there are some homeowners that are still there. Most of those properties are rental properties, I think the party tonight was an owner-occupied over there, but most of them have transitioned into more income properties."
The second property was for the Boys of Fall, LLC, which is currently constructing apartments geared towards college students nearby the parcel on 2766 Atlanta Highway. Luke Presley spoke on behalf of Boys of Fall, LLC, reiterating from the presentation that the property already had a business type building there and it would remain to be used as offices, and the driveway would shift to the roadways in the apartment development. The request for the 0.402 acre parcel to be rezoned from Hall County HB "Highway Business" to Oakwood C-2 "Highway Business," along with application for annexation, first reading and zoning were approved. No one spoke for or against the application.