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Planning commission rejects Chestatee master plan update
Residents oppose change in lot size, building standards
Chestatee pic
Chestatee developer Brian Ferris presents an application to amend the master plan of the subdivision so that he can add 11 extra lots during a Dawson County Planning Commission meeting May 15. - photo by Allie Dean

Chestatee developer Brian Ferris hopes to amend the subdivision’s master plan to allow for 11 more lots in a developed section of the subdivision known as Linkside, much to the dismay of residents in the rest of the subdivision. 

The Linkside section is located on Nightfire Lane, the first road on the right after entering the Chestatee subdivision.

In Ferris’ application, filed April 11, he states that there are 46 lots in the Linkside section and all have a width of approximately 100 feet. Eleven of the original lots have been sold, and Ferris is requesting that the width of the remaining 34 lots, which have not been sold, be decreased from 100 feet to 70 feet.

Doing so would allow for 11 additional lots, Ferris said, and would not result in a change in density.

“As you know, Chestatee has lots that range in width from 50 feet wide, up to 100 feet wide,” Ferris wrote in the application. “I feel that this change would not in any way change the look or feel of Chestatee.”

He also wrote that the single-family homes to be constructed on the new lots would meet the current square footage for new construction in Chestatee.

The planning commission subsequently shut down the applicant after a hearing May 15 when over 100 Chestatee residents showed up to oppose the changes to the plan.

Planning staff had recommended approval of the application with six stipulations.

The zoning for the subdivision was approved in 1998 and included 543 lots to be developed. Since then, one homeowner combined two lots into one after purchasing the property, which according to the planning and zoning department, leaves Ferris 541 lots in the subdivision.

County staff recommend the application be approved with several stipulations, and noted that the new total lot count for the Chestatee development as a whole has been reduced from 543 to 541.

Ferris said he agreed with all of the planning department’s stipulations except for the lot count. He said that because the original zoning included 543 lots, he would like to be able to develop 543 lots.

Several Chestatee and Linkside homeowners spoke after Ferris’ presentation.

Dave Polak, who was the first to move into the Linkside section in 2007, spoke in opposition of the amendment to the master plan.

“Cramming 11 more lots and homes onto our street will severely damage both the intent and character of Linkside,” he said. “Reducing the width of each lot from 100 down to 70 feet will destroy the character and erode all of the Chestatee home values, not just Linkside. Linkside was originally marketed as luxury homes starting at $600,000; the developer has informed us that he intends to approve asphalt shingle roofs, which are currently prohibited in Linkside and the rest of Chestatee, and at a recent meeting with the developer, he stated that because of the smaller lots, he will also allow front entry garages on some of those properties, which is specifically prohibited in the Linkside section of our covenants.”

He also stated that Ferris has offered no justification or necessity for the rezoning, meaning it should be denied immediately, and that Ferris’ claim that it is difficult to develop the property as it was originally approved is contrary to the absence of marketing attempts over the past ten years.

“In the ten years we have lived in Linkside, the developer has never partnered with anyone to build a model home, in ten years he has never partnered with anyone to build a spec home in Linkside and his marketing efforts of any sort have been nonexistent at best,” Polak said. “The sales office on the corner of our street is not even occupied on some days and weekends.”

Others who spoke mirrored the same sentiments.

“My issue with this is these homeowners bought something with the expectation of what it was, it was platted already, and now they want to replat it and add 11 lots, it’s probably not what the people that bought into it were expecting,” said planning commission member Neil Hornsey.

Hornsey motioned to recommend that the BOC deny the application, and the motion passed unanimously.

The board of commissioners will have the final say during a voting meeting at 6 p.m. June 21.