Representatives of Dawson Village Partners went before the Dawson County Planning Commission April 16 to request rezoning of the proposed location for the Etowah Village mixed use development project in a meeting that lasted well over three hours.
After hearing arguments and opinions from both sides, the planning commission voted 3-2 to recommend denial of the rezoning to the Board of Commissioners.
The majority of residents who stood up to speak at the meeting voiced their concerns with the project, which ranged from increased traffic to the environmental impact to the nearby Etowah River.
“I heard this is the same guy that did Avalon and Battery Park,” Dawson County resident Patrick Urrutia said. “Those are beautiful places. But I can take my car and be there in 30 minutes or an hour. I can go take advantage of that and then come back home and have peace and quiet in my back yard.”
After the meeting, Urrutia spoke with Dawson County News. “I’m not opposed to the development,” he explained. “I don’t want it in my back yard, and I don’t think we need 1,000 acres.”
“I’m for smart development, not greed-driven development,” added Dawson County resident John Bianchini.
But not all of the citizens who spoke were in opposition to the development. Gina Johnson, a commercial real estate broker and Dawson County resident, offered her support to the new project.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Dawson County to plan now for its future,” Johnson explained. “I’m excited about having active adult homes along with continuing care facilities adjacent to this community village for shopping and entertainment. Everyone can enjoy the 40-acre community park and the canoe launch on the Etowah River. By careful master planning, this village will be environmentally friendly and provide a place for many family gatherings for special events.”
After hours of similar comments from both sides, the planning commissioners made their decision.
Emory Dooley, Jason Hamby and Neil Hornsey voted to recommend denial, while John Maloney and Tim Bennett voted against.
Despite the thunderous applause that filled the chamber when the commission handed down its vote, this isn’t a final decision for the project. The planning commission simply makes recommendations to the Dawson County Board of Commissioners.
While the planning commission’s recommendation to deny the rezoning is going to be considered, it would not be unheard of for the Board of Commissioners to approve the proposal anyway.
Crystal Falls Lake & Golf Club stands as the most recent example of a major project getting the green light from the Board of Commissioners after failing to earn the recommendation of the planning commission.
The Board of Commissioners will vote on the proposal during its May 16 voting session at 6 p.m.