GAINESVILLE – You know it’s going to be an interesting meeting when those wanting to comment on a rezoning issue arrive by bus and county marshals need to scramble to open an overflow meeting room to accommodate the unexpected turnout.
Such was the case late Monday afternoon as the Hall County Planning Commission met to hear a request from applicant D. Barrett Investment Properties to rezone 5.7-acres along Thompson Bridge Road to allow for the construction of an automated car wash and self-storage facility.
According to Hall County Marshals nearly sixty people were present to speak in opposition to the application, most of them residents of Lanier Village Estates, a gated, age-restricted community of 475 residents adjacent to the subject development.
Before the evening was over Planning Commission Chairman Chris Braswell would commend the group from Lanier Village Estates (LVE) for how they presented their side of the issue, including the fact that it took over two-hours for other agenda items to be handled before their voices were heard.
“Thank you, folks, because your input helped us,” Braswell told the audience following a vote to table the application until June 21st and allow the applicant to make modifications to his site plan.
Most of those from LVE wanted the rezoning application recommended for denial if it involved a car wash and self-storage facility, yet many in opposition agreed that rezoning the property from Agriculture-Residential to Planned Commercial Development (PCD) was a logical move since the site was surrounded by PCD zoning, including LVE and Kroger-anchored Thompson Bridge Commons.
LVE resident Augie DeAugustinis told commissioners, “The average age out (here)…is eighty-one years old. We have a lot of people who have a tendency to go to bed early and have difficulty sleeping sometimes…and so noise is a major problem.”
“But the biggest problem…is the fact of security,” DeAugustinis added. “This project would open us up to easier access anywhere on our property.”
Richard Bergen also lives in LVE and said that besides the rezoning that the applicant was seeking, he was also asking for numerous variances to provisions of that new zoning.
“The application includes requests not only for rezoning but five perceived variances, three conditional uses and a highway-median cut,” Bergen pointed out. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a rezoning with other sorts of approvals required; kind of making it look like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”
Athens resident Dustin Barrett, the principle member of D. Barrett Investment Properties, LLC, came to the podium and told commissioners he was amenable to making changes in his site plan to accommodate the concerns of LVE residents.
Barrett explained that the access point onto the property from Thompson Bridge Road (State Route 60) was dictated by the Georgia Department of Transportation and that specific detail was beyond his control, but he was willing to reconsider other aspects of his planned operation.
In the end Barrett agreed to make changes to his plan including:
- Limiting hours of operation at the car wash to 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Limiting hours of operation at the self-storage building to 6:00 a.m. to midnight
- Eliminating plans for boat and RV storage
- Installing a 10-foot security fence along property lines shared with LVE
- Having masonry exteriors for all exposed walls
- Moving the storage building as far away from LVE property as feasibly possible
Braswell told the applicant, “Those are things that we’ve agreed to once we come back and (you) can address those with the site plan.”
Any recommendation made by the Planning Commission when it hears Barrett’s revised plan in two weeks (whether for approval or denial) is subject to the final decision of the Hall County Commission; that will most likely happen on July 8th.