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Airport rezoning advances
Racing family's plans may move forward
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Property owners Ernie, Bill and Dan Elliott have moved one step closer to redeveloping their land on Elliott Family Parkway into a light industrial complex.

The Dawsonville City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the Elliotts’ request to rezone more than 204 acres Monday night.

In addition to developing a light industrial complex for small engineering and race car-based businesses, the plan calls for expanding an existing airstrip, which has stirred controversy for several years.

Nearby residents maintain their quality of life will be compromised by the city rezoning the property from AP (annexed property) to light industrial, saying increased air traffic is already noticeable.

The Elliotts contend expanding the airport is for safety purposes and will support existing and future businesses that would locate to the area.

Tom Calkins, an attorney for the Elliotts, emphasized the industrial and economical benefits of approving the rezoning request, noting the addition of high quality engineering jobs the development could bring to the county.

The site is currently home to Ernie Elliott Inc., Bill Elliott Racing, Dan Elliott Transmission and Emory Life Flight.

The Elliott family made the request to develop the land in hopes of selling or leasing land or buildings, housing small aircraft sales and manufacturing facilities, racecar engineering and other engineering businesses.

Nearby property owner and community activist Allison Schmidt countered Calkins’ claim, saying the new industries locating near Elliott Field would more than likely bring their own engineers with them rather than hiring from within the community.

Schmidt was also vocal about her opposition last year when the Elliotts first proposed annexing the property into the city.

The Elliotts’ property was annexed into the city of Dawsonville a little more than a year ago with the intention of expanding the airstrip and current businesses on the site.

The pending annexation was a bargaining tool last year when the city of Dawsonville and Dawson County were in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax V discussions.

Dawsonville agreed it would not rezone any property annexed from the county into the city for 12 months following the SPLOST agreement that allocated more than $4 million to city of Dawsonville projects. The agreement also prohibited the city from annexing property outside a predetermined demarcation, or boundary, line.

Twelve months have now passed, and the Elliotts are ready to move forward with their development plans.

The Dawsonville Planning Commission on June 16 recommended approval of the Elliotts’ rezoning request with several stipulations, including a site plan, 50 foot buffer near existing homes and a storm water management system.

Schmidt said the 50 foot buffer stipulation “is an insult to anyone who lives next door” to the property and warned the council to be cautious in approving the request, which “could ruin the quality of life for many people for just one family.”

A final public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.

E-mail Michele Hester at