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56 acres rezoned by board
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Dawson County soon will have a much-needed, high-end, 300-unit apartment complex, a major grocery retailer and several separate building lots, known as out parcels, along its Highway 400 corridor.

The board of commissioners on Thursday approved rezoning approximately 56 acres from commercial highway business to a planned comprehensive development at the corner of Dawson Forest Road and Highway 400, across from Arbys and IHOP.

And while elected officials have said the grocery retailer planned for the project is Publix, officials with the chain will not confirm their commitment until a lease is signed.

We are close to getting a lease document signed, said Charlie Worthen, principle, Halpern Development Company, LLC. Hopefully, we can make that announcement soon. We expect to start development in April 2015.

Phase 1 will be commercial development; phases 2 and 3 are residential. The grocery store will be 46,500 square feet.

We expect the market will dictate, as soon as phase 1 is finished, we will go straight into phaase 2, Worthan said.

David McKee, director of planning and development for Dawson County, recommended the board approve the project.

The site will be split in half with commercial in front (facing highway 400) and multi-family units in back, McKee said during the meeting.

Zoning for the project includes three stipulations to which the developer agreed: First, the commercial component will be completed prior to or in conduction with the first phase of the multi-family development. Second, prior to the completion of phase 3 of the multi-family development, the developer will connect an access road to World Wide Drive along the southern boundary line to allow an access exit to Carlisle Road. And, third, the apartment building will be fully sprinkled.

Chamber President Christie Haynes and Dawson Development Authority Director Charlie Auvermann spoke in favor of the projects approval.

I can tell you it is a need we have so deeply, Haynes said. Having high-end apartments available will be a great asset for our community.

Auvermann said studies conducted with Georgia Tech show the project generating 175 new jobs and approximately $698,000 annually in new sales tax revenue for the county through LOST and SPLOST collections. LOST is a local option sales tax, and SPLOST is a special purpose option sales tax.

Auvermann also announced that electric charging stations will be installed in the parking lot of the development, a first for Dawson County.

Vehicle registration in Dawson County shows an increase in electric vehicles, and visitors from Atlanta shopping at the mall need to charge to get back.

Charging stations also are expected to be installed at the outlet mall and at the 110-acre Power Center retail development, across Highway 400. The two projects combined add 156-acres of retail to Dawson County with a total 300 jobs and $90 million in construction and development, according to Commission Chair Mike Berg.

In other zoning business, the board approved a request from Big Dog Drilling and Auger LLC to rezone 6.84 acres from Residential Agricultural to Community Commercial Business (CCB). The property is located at the intersection of G.W Taffar Road and Dawson Forest Road. The applicants, Robert and Emily Lawson, plan to remodel an existing 3,200 square foot shop and provide privacy fencing. The company specializes in structural foundation repair and well water drilling services.