The Dawsonville City Council voted last week to change the zoning for a recently annexed property to residential after an attorney discovered it had been improperly classified.
The vote followed a decision by the council last month to annex a small parcel adjacent to Gold Creek Foods on Hwy. 9 North and classify the site as Annexed Property, or AP.
City Attorney Dana Miles explained to council that Michele Battle, the attorney for Sosebee Realty, which handled the land deal with Gold Creek Foods, advised Dawsonville that neither party had sought the designation.
"If AP zoning is not requested and no other zoning designation is approved by the city council, then under our zoning ordinance the property automatically becomes zoned R-1, or Residential Zoning," Miles said.
According to Miles, after city officials learned this, talks began to correct the matter. The process required a public meeting and a city council vote.
"Our zoning ordinance provides for AP zoning upon annexation ‘if requested by the applicant.' Here, the applicant originally requested CIR, which [Councilman] Chris Gaines' motion had the effect of denying," Miles said.
"If the property is going to be annexed, it must receive a zoning designation. So assuming that if their CIR rezoning was not going to be approved, the applicant would request AP. Chris made the motion to annex the property into the city with the AP zoning designation."
Gaines' motion during last week's meeting to change the rezoning from Annexed Property to Residential-1 and send the request back to the planning board was approved with a 3-0 vote.
Councilman Mike Sosebee recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest. His son, Mark Sosebee, owns the chicken processing facility.
The planning board will revisit the issue during its meeting July 22. According to Miles, the decision has no effect on land use for the property.
The topic for annexation and rezoning first arose at a planning board meeting April 15.
The rezoning was tabled due to a request for additional information to address neighbors' concerns about noise and air pollution.
According to Michael Sheets, vice president of operations for Gold Creek Foods, the plant plans to address the concerns.
"I have gotten a quote to have Leyland cypresses around that area of the property and that back area for the new truck parking lot," he said.
"Within just a few years, the trees could be 20-30 feet tall. We're doing that regardless."
The city council initially voted 2-1 to approve the annexation in June, with Mike Sosebee recusing himself due to a potential conflict of interest.
It has been Mayor James Grogan's hope that the zoning issue will get the city, Gold Creek Foods and the plant's neighbors talking about ways to improve the city.
"It is the city's goal to enforce all of its ordinances equally and fairly," he said. "We believe that Gold Creek will attempt to comply and hope that no enforcement is necessary.
"When the planning commission makes its recommendation, the city council will properly consider it."