Developers for new housing units off Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 East have once again halted their efforts to rezone property after tabling their request at the Dawson County Planning Commission meeting last week.
The proposed plan requires the rezoning of two plots of land currently zoned as residential agricultural on Hwy. 53 between Elliott and Thompson Creek roads. The rezoning would convert the land to residential multi-family and potentially allow the contractors to build two townhome and single family developments on nearly 73 acres of land.
At its Aug. 16 meeting, the planning commission heard plans for the two new housing developments on Hwy. 53 East near Elliot Road.
According to the developer's request, a 15-acre plot located between Slack Auto Parts and Farmington Creek would contain a 95-unit townhome development that would be bordered by Dawson Forest Apartments on the west.
The land, located off Hughes Court, is currently being used as a rental mobile home park.
According to Dawson County Planning and Development Director Jason Streetman, there are two people currently occupying mobile homes on the road who would need to be notified if the development were approved.
The other 57-acre plot would be located across Hwy. 53, next to the Tractor Supply and the Dawson County Government South Annex.
It would include townhomes and single family homes targeted at citizens 55 years and older, much like the nearby Farmington Creek, a senior housing community located across Hwy. 53 from the proposed new development.
The townhomes have been dubbed a ‘Senior Lifestyle Neighborhood' and would contain 240 housing units, a tennis court, pool and small clubhouse.
The company also requested a rezoning for land next to the 240-unit development to be used as a commercial business. The land comprises 3.63 acres and is proposed to house a 41,000 square foot retail center.
Streetman said that the planning and development office does not know what kind of retail center it would be.
The three rezoning requests were originally tabled during the August meeting so that the developer could meet with concerned residents of the area, conduct a traffic study and present the results of the study to the board.
As of Monday, the traffic study had been completed.
The requests were brought before the planning commission again on Sept. 20, when citizens and residents of Elliot Road and their neighbors gathered once more to voice concerns over the traffic and congestion their road may see once the townhome complexes are complete.
The residents have signed a petition to try and keep the developers from succeeding in zoning and building in such a dense area near their neighborhood. The group collected under the moniker "Stop 335 Townhouses on Elliott Road!" and has created a website that outlines their disapproval of the proposed developments.
"We're more concerned with the traffic than what is actually being built," said Betty Pfister, a petitioner and Farmington Creek resident. "We're not against development; it's just too much density there too quick. There will be 400 units in such a tiny space."
Pfister said that if the developers were building similarly to Farmington Creek, where everything is spread out, then the nearby residents wouldn't be so upset. But that, coupled with other issues, makes them fearful of the impending developments.
"There are a lot of traffic and noise issues," said Pfister. "The road there isn't wide enough; people can't see to turn out of Farmington creek as it is. And the wooded area between us and [Slack Auto Parts] acts like a buffer from 400, keeping the noise down."
The petitioners also brought up the apartments that are planned to go up behind Dawson Crossroads, the new Publix-anchored shopping center, and compare that development to the Elliott Road situation.
"There are going to be 300 units behind the Publix, but there isn't anything else there so that space can absorb it- this space on Hwy. 53 can't absorb this much development," Pfister said.
According to Streetman, the Dawson Crossroads housing complex, developed by Home Corp Inc., will have one, two and three bedroom apartments and has already been through the zoning phase.
"The plans went through zoning as part of the original master plan for the Publix shopping center," Streetman said. "Right now they are in the plan review stage, or first stage of development. No permits have been obtained as of right now."
At the Sept. 20 meeting petitioners tried to speak about the application again, but Planning Commission Chairman Jason Hamby advised the residents to meet with the owners of the property to be rezoned to discuss their grievances.
The lawyers for the developer of the housing project, Lipscomb et al., had already held a meeting on Sept. 14 at Fire Station No. 2 to discuss the plans with the public.
"I didn't know about the meeting that was held at the fire station, and I don't want to see the builder's plans anyway," Pfister said. "I don't care about bathrooms: I don't think that this small area of land can sustain all of this development."
The commission voted to set the application aside until the planning commission's Nov. 15 meeting to give the developers and residents more time to talk and to review the results of the traffic study.
"A lot could change between now and a couple of months," Hamby said. "This will give the concerned residents time to meet with the owners and developers and work out issues before we take a vote on it in November."
If the planning commission goes forward on Nov. 15 and recommends the rezoning to the board of commissioners, they could approve it as early as their Dec. 1 voting session.