The Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to table the rezoning of the contentious Etowah Village project for thirty days while the commissioners did their due diligence.
The proposed development is expected to span nearly 800 acres near the intersection of Lumpkin Campground Road and Hwy 400.
According to the rezoning application submitted by Etowah Village Partners, the project includes “a Master Planned Community with a broad mix of uses to complement each other and the surrounding community,” as well as a “public park, canoe launch, walking trails, museums, and retail within walking distance.” Per the application, there will be 538,780 square feet of retail space, 243,200 square feet of office space, and 110,000 square feet for a convention and performing arts center.
Corey Guthrie, representing Dawson Village Partners, claimed that the project would bring in over $6 million dollars in impact fees. Impact fees are fees levied on developers for the impact that their project would have on the resources of the county. These fees go straight into the budget for schools, emergency services, and county government.
Guthrie also said that “as proposed, this project would bring 1,500 jobs to Dawson County, most of which would be white collar jobs.”
This project has sparked ample conversation within the community, both in favor and against. During the meeting, several citizens stood up to voice their opinion on the project.
One of the major concerns brought up in the meeting was the existence of Cherokee mounds and burial grounds in the proposed area of the development. Such archaeological sites are protected by both federal and state law.
Other arguments against the development included growing traffic, a lack of infrastructure, the quality of life in the county, and the strain the development would place on the schools and police force.
Jameson Kinley, director of the Dawson County Planning and Development department, read a statement from the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office during his presentation of the application. “As of right now, the police protection is not adequate in this area, and a request for additional staff would be necessary.” In the same presentation, he stated that the school district did not lodge any concerns about the project.
Most of the smaller projects within the Etowah Village development are not in need of rezoning. That includes all of the retail and a major portion of the senior care facilities.
“We’re not going to shoot off the hip to make our decision,” said Commissioner Tim Satterfield. “We are going to look at it. There was stuff brought up tonight that I heard for the first time, so we are going to look at it.”
The proposal will be brought back to vote during the BoC's regular voting session on June 20.