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Boiled peanuts, flying bats and fuel all featured in details for the Dawson County Planning Commission’s Nov. 15 meeting
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Photo submitted to DCN.

Drivers may be able to fuel up just outside Dawsonville’s city limits in the future if plans for a gas station on Ga. 53 East just past Perimeter Road come to fruition.

This story continues below.

Businessman Darsit Patel is requesting a rezone of 2.2 acres from Residential Sub Rural to Commercial Rural Business at 1072 Ga. 53, according to the agenda packet for the Nov. 15 Dawson County Planning Commission meeting.

Planning commissioners have the option of either voting to recommend approval or denial of the application, as well as tabling it to get more information. If they recommend approval Tuesday, the proposal would advance to the Board of Commissioners for a Dec. 15 hearing. The BOC can vote to ultimately approve, deny or table the application.

The Planning Commission meets the third Tuesday of every month starting at 6 p.m. in the government center’s second-floor assembly room. People can also watch the meeting online via a live stream on the Dawson County Government Facebook page Tuesday. 

A rezoning concept plan for the potential gas station shows entry and exit points off of Ga. 53 and Acorn Road, with the property having an L or chevron shape. The rectangular gas pump area would extend back onto the property, with the convenience store area being perpendicular to it. The store would contain about 2,400 square feet of retail space and feature 24 parking spaces on the outside. 

There are currently no gas stations on Ga. 53 between Perimeter Road and Ga. 400. 

On Oct. 17, Dawsonville’s City Council voted 3-2 to approve a rezoning and annexation for 33.98 acres off of Perimeter Road for a 195 rental apartment units. Two properties and Perimeter Road separate the forthcoming apartment development and the proposed gas station site.

County officials thus far suggested paving Acorn Road or working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to possibly acquire more right of way, according to the rezoning application. 

Boiled peanuts

Now, 3962 Ga. 53 East may just be an empty gravel parking lot, but local businessman Perry Betterton considers it a possible site from which to sell produce and trailers, according to his rezoning application. 

Betterton requested that the zoning for the 2.8 acres of land there be changed from Residential Agricultural to Commercial Highway Business (CHB). 

Initially, boiled peanuts and other seasonal produce would be sold there, the application stated. 

After operating an  online trailer dealership for five years, Betterson is seeking to expand his operations and open a yard where customers can view the trailers for sale. 

Minimal noise and vehicle traffic is expected, with business operations planned to be limited to daytime hours. A 15-foot landscape buffer is proposed along the property portion facing Ga. 53.

Stowers Road proposal

A developer is eyeing 32.1 acres at Ga. 400 and Stowers Road for a proposed 300,000-plus-square-foot industrial warehouse space. 

An application from Deer Run Partners and Crownway Properties requests for land to be rezoned from CHB and RSR to Commercial Industrial Restricted (CIR).

If ultimately approved, the project would entail about 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 137,400 square feet of flex space and 81,700 square feet of self-storage space. 

Current concept plans call for three full-access driveways on Stowers Road and one right-in/right-out driveway on Ga. 400. 

Abdul Amer of A and R Engineering conducted a traffic study for the proposed project. Amer expressed concerns about the pavement width and cross section on Stowers Road being able to handle the amount of expected truck traffic and cited the need for further study for that roadway portion. 

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If ultimately approved by the Board of Commissioners, this proposed development would necessitate road improvements approaching the intersection of Stowers Road and Ga. 400. Photos submitted to DCN.

In his report attached to the application, Amer suggested either reducing the number of driveways on Stowers Road and planning for one closer to Ga. 400; improving internal roadway conditions to encourage use of the R-cut driveway along Ga. 400; or adding other improvements “as necessary” to that section of Stowers Road. 

“The intersection of Ga. 400 and Stowers Road is currently at an acute angle with a small radius return for traffic turning right from Stowers Road onto southbound Ga. 400,” Amer stated in his report. “With increase in traffic, including truck traffic, on Stowers Road, the right turn movement can be difficult given the acute angle and high speeds [of] more than 55 mph on Ga. 400.”

With potential challenges with right-of-way availability, grading and existing guardrail at the Stowers Road approach, Amer recommended a “channelized right turn lane with a larger radius return” be installed at Ga. 400 southbound and Stowers Road.

In the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission’s Oct. 24 memo to Dawson County officials, about 1,264 daily trips, with some being freight vehicles, would be expected in the area. Between 137-175 vehicle trips are expected per hour. 

Much of Ga. 400 in the Stowers Road area has a dividing median and limited curb cuts to maintain higher speed levels, which would direct most traffic exiting the development north via the Stowers Road intersection, the GMRC report stated.

GMRC staff recommended the county and the developer take a look at limiting left-turn options for vehicles exiting the property onto Stowers Rd. to only one or two access points. 

“This would mitigate the prospects of multiple vehicles trying to turn against traffic, particularly in such a short space that comes within 1,000 feet of the Ga. 400 intersection,” the report added.

GMRC noted current concept plans assuming about 39% “impervious surface coverage,” with the rest of the land set aside for preserved greenspace, detention areas and buffers. 

In a Sept. 29 letter from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to GMRC, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams mentioned the land borders an unnamed tributary to the Etowah River, part of the high-priority Upper Etowah watershed. 

The waters immediately downstream of the proposed development are known to contain:

  • The federally-endangered Amber and Etowah Darters; 

  • the federally-threatened Cherokee Darter; 

  • the state-endangered Frecklebelly Madtom (which has been proposed threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act); 

  • the state-endangered Coosa Chub;

  • the state-threatened Etowah Crayfish.

Proximate land may also include suitable habitat for the federally-threatened (proposed endangered) Northern Long-eared Bat and the proposed federally-endangered tri-colored bat. 

Williams recommended the completion of bat surveys “to determine if any roost trees are present on site.”

Other concerns addressed the proposed addition of “a significant amount of impervious surface to a steeply sloped area” and an expected increase in surface runoff into streams, which could impact sedimentation, chemical pollution, erosive flooding and reduced groundwater recharge. 

DNR suggestions included increasing the buffer widths on tributary streams to 50 feet and using “constructed wetland designs with native vegetation in stormwater management areas.” Other possible fixes could entail reducing impervious surfaces or using “alternative construction materials that allow for infiltration.” 

The developer is also requesting variances to decrease the minimum parking requirements and the front setback, according to the application.

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File photo. - photo by Julia Hansen

Kilough commercial re-up

Following a change in county ordinances, a developer is again asking for a commercial rezoning of property along Ga. 400 North for the commercial part of a mixed-use development.

Developer Kilough Ventures wants 32.1 acres near the corner of Kilough Church Road and Ga. 400 to be rezoned from CHB to CIR, according to an updated application.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Dawson County’s Board of Commissioners approved the rezonings for the residential and commercial portions of the mixed-use development, called Kilough Point. 

The residential part of Kilough Point will include a planned 331 homes set on 78 acres now zoned Residential Multi Family. Land prep has already begun near the front of the site 

In 2020, Dawson County created the narrower CIR zoning, under which the warehouse use was moved. Due to that, the developer couldn’t go forward with the planned 175,000-square-foot mix of retail, office and warehouse space without requesting another rezoning. 

The developer is also requesting a variance to decrease the front setback.