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PetSmart clear to operate at new shopping center
Commissioners approve special use permit
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County commissioners last week approved a special use permit to allow PetSmart to operate at the new shopping center going in at the southeast intersection of Ga. 400 and Dawson Forest Road.

Rachel Burton, director of planning and zoning, said the permit is required since the store will offer pet grooming as a service.

"The reason behind the permissive use permit is to ensure the board and planning commission have considered noise factors which may impact adjacent residential areas, isolating factors such as topography and buffers and any possible noxious odors that would affect adjacent properties," she said.

PetSmart is among several retail stores to announce locations opening in Dawson Crossroads, a Halpern Enterprises property to be anchored by a 45,600 square foot Publix supermarket set to open this fall.

Brooklyn Joe's Pizzeria, Lee Nails, Great Clips and a Chili's restaurant outparcel have already signed on to open locations.

Dawson Crossroads is one of two new shopping centers under construction at the Dawson County crossing.

The new Kroger-anchored Dawson Marketplace will bring Ross Dress for Less and Marshalls, Hobby Lobby, Petco and Famous Footwear to the 100-acre site just south of North Georgia Premium Outlets at the southwest intersection of Ga. 400 and Dawson Forest Road.

Kroger announced plans last year to relocate the grocer from its current location on Hwy. 53 to open one of Georgia's largest grocery stores at approximately 123,000 square feet, with a nine pump Kroger Fuel Center.

Dawson Marketplace is estimated to be operational by the first quarter of 2017.

The Development Authority of Dawson County is currently working to find a tenant for the building Kroger now occupies.

"Everyone involved in the new project recognized that there would need to be a new tenant for the old Kroger location when the store moved," said Charlie Auvermann, the authority's executive director.

Auvermann, with input from the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and the county's planning department, is leading the charge to find the tenant.

He said the development authority recognized last year the need to have a consolidated effort to locate possible new tenants.

The task force consists of experienced property management professionals from Kroger, the authority, the Shopping Center Group, which is a national retail search company that specializes in expansion of new retail centers and the backfill of new tenants into existing retail centers, and the owners of the current Kroger center.

Since forming in the fall, the property has been shown to a number of interested parties.

"It is in the best interest of everyone involved to find a suitable long-term anchor tenant for the existing location at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Ga. 400," Auvermann said.

Also during last week's commission meeting, the commissioners were asked to consider changing the county's policy and procedure on public comment during meetings.

Kimberly Boim, who billed herself as a watchdog for taxpayers, wants the policy revised to ensure public comment from citizens is recorded as part of the official meeting minutes.

Currently, the commission allows public comment on agenda items during the meeting.

However, citizens wanting to speak on items that are not on the agenda can address the board after the meeting is adjourned.

"A cement wall has been built between the taxpayers of this county and the people who spend our money," she said. "Taxpayers, in my opinion, should be able to stand in their courthouse and talk to their commissioners and have what is reported become part of the public record, regardless of subject."

Commission members did not say whether or not they would take up her request.