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Vote could advance park
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Officials are expecting a packed crowd for Monday night’s Dawsonville Planning Commission meeting.


The commission is expected to vote on a request made by a Cumming resident who plans to develop a motorsports country club on about 150 annexed acres in west Dawson County on Duck Thurmond Road.


The commission tabled the request by Jeremy Porter in December following the accusation by an adjacent property owner’s attorney that the proposal required a Development of Regional Impact Study.


Just hours before the Dec. 22 meeting, Porter submitted a new site plan that eliminated the development’s residential component, which would have called for the impact study.


Claire Sharpe, chairwoman of the planning board, suggested delaying the rezoning request in order to explore whether Porter followed procedures in the rezoning process.


Richard A. Wingate, an attorney representing West and Helen Hamryka, who own a 60-acre horse farm across the street from the site, contended the study should have been conducted before the rezoning request reached the board.


The revised application shows a Le Mans-style driving course nearly 3 miles long with straight-aways nearly 2,000 feet in length, car, bike and kart rental, garages and clubhouse, along with shops and retail space.


Porter said the residential component was conceptual and “years off. I’m not in the housing business. When we sell, then they’ll have to do the DRI.”


The Hamrykas contacted Wingate soon after learning of the proposed motorsports park that would be within view and earshot of the couple’s horse training ring.


“Horses and race cars don’t mix,” Helen Hamryka said. “If you’ve ever ridden a horse on a road, just regular, road safe vehicles going at normal speed limits scare the dickens out of them.”


Porter said he does not want to be  a burden to the community, rather an added attraction to compliment what Dawson County already has to offer.


“I’ve agreed to move the skid pad and increased dirt berms and buffers on the property line,” he said, adding he is working to alleviate every issue that is brought to his attention. 


“Mill Creek Environmental conducted a wetlands and endangered species study. There will be absolutely no light that goes off the property, no PA system. This will bring in less traffic than the Dairy Queen and far less of an impact than 400 houses. And the tax revenue is off the records,” Porter said.


Preliminary estimates released by the Development Authority of Dawson County indicate the development could bring in as much as $4 million in tax revenue to the county in the next eight to 10 years.


Allison Schmitt, who lives within two miles of the site and spoke in opposition to the request in December, said she likes the idea, but not the location.


“While I support this type of thing, I think it belongs in an area that is already an established industrial area, with established emissions levels, with established noise levels that is not adjacent to a residential area,” she said.


Last month, Schmitt asked planning board members to put themselves in the neighbors’ shoes.


“Imagine your home life being completely destroyed by this,” she said.


Dozens of people came to speak in favor of the development, though few were from the local community.


Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, said that shouldn’t be an issue.


“Tourism is people from outside the county,” Auvermann said. “What you’re trying to bring in is people who will come here, spend their dollars, stay the night perhaps in one of the hotels, enjoy themselves in our county and then go home.


“That means that people who are in support of the tourism projects really should be from outside the county.”


But Helen Hamryka said that’s not enough.


“(Porter) talks about having new people come in, spend their money and then leave,” she said. “I live there. That’s my home, that’s where I conduct my business.


“They will come and go and I will be there. And they will continue to have fun, and my business and my home and my family will be greatly impacted by this development.”


The Dawsonville Planning Commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in the G.L. Pete Gilleland Council Chambers at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, 415 Hwy. 53 East. The meeting is open to the public.


E-mail Michele Hester at