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BOC tables rezone request for 113 townhomes

During their June 16 meeting, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted to table a rezone of 18.9 acres for a 113-unit rental development at Beartooth Parkway and Dawson Village Way until July 7. 

The commissioners wanted more time to confirm stipulations to which the developer agreed on moving a planned trash receptacle, slightly increasing driveway length and no on-street parking. 

“I would like to look into the 21 vs 25 feet [length], because we’ve always pushed for a minimum throat depth of 25 [feet],” said District 4 Commissioner and BOC Vice Chair Emory Dooley. 

Wisconsin-based developer Continental Properties has requested for the land to be rezoned from Commercial Highway Business to Residential Multi-Family to build 133 “Avanterra” duplex and triplex units at a density of six units per acre.

During her presentation to the commissioners, Senior Director of Development Services Sara Johnson explained Continental’s decision to build residences in Dawson County by pointing to 

her company’s other Georgia locations in McDonough, Newnan and Cartersville.

She also shared some of Continental’s market research metrics, elaborating that  over the past three years, demand has “significantly outpaced supply” in the Dawson County area. 

“The occupancy rate in this submarket right now is at 97.6 percent, and that indicates to us the need for additional housing in the area,” she said. 

If approved, Avanterra Dawson’s duplex and triplex homes would have between one and four bedrooms and cost about $1,800-$2,600 in base rent. Amenities would include a clubhouse, swimming pool, grilling area and deck, 24/7 fitness center, pet playground, smart home technology, valet trash and a select number of enclosed yards. 

The subdivision would entail a single lot with fully-rental residences, and Continental would manage it in-house.

Concept plans show access points coming off of Ga. 53 and Beartooth Parkway, with a right-in, right-out entrance on the property’s side bordering Ga. 400, for four accesses total. 

Bryan Young, a former public works project manager for the county, also spoke on behalf of Continental, explaining that the developer did not conduct a traffic study since its neighbor, Manor Lake Assisted Living and Memory case, does not have a deceleration or similar lane. 

He pointed out that Beartooth Parkway has a posted 20 mph speed limit, and according to the county’s subdivision regulations, 25 mph is the threshold for decel lane. 

“With all of the multiple points of access going out in all different directions, we feel like traffic can disperse evenly throughout multiple high points throughout the day,” Young said. 

As for the driveways issue, Johnson mentioned that they did adjust the plan from the application’s initial submittal so that all residents’ cars would be in driveways  away from the right of way. 

Last month, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the rezone, with the stipulation that the developer have 25 feet between the face of each garage to the curb of the sidewalk. 

Johnson presented slides showing that 21 feet would be enough for the parking apron stalls, clarifying that it’d be 21 to the front of the sidewalk and five more feet before the street or curb. 

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines discussed the county’s desire to have incoming developers improve local connectivity or walkability with sidewalks. There isn’t currently a sidewalk along Beartooth Parkway now, he said. 

“We as a government can't afford to put sidewalks over there, so anybody that brings an impact into the area, we’d respectively ask that they’d contribute to that,” Gaines said. 

District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield pointed out how a similar approach had been taken in the areas where Publix, Kroger and similar businesses along Ga. 400 stand. 

Johnson mentioned Continental’s existing plans for sidewalks within the development and said that as far as a sidewalk on Beartooth, they’d need to consider the impact to proximate wetland but that they’re “not opposed to it.”

Will Creekmore, whose company owns Manor Lake, said that his company isn’t opposed to Continental’s planned development but cautioned that based on the current site plan, he took issue with the trash enclosure’s planned location on the west side of the development. 

Manor Lake Development LLC recently purchased an additional acre with the vision of adding 10 more units to their community. That expansion has already been approved. 

He said that residents who would pay between $3,800 and $4,000 a month would likely have an issue with a dumpster behind their homes. 

Creekmore clarified that he’s already working with Continental on a sewer easement and reiterated his hope that the latter’s site plan could be reworked. 

Johnson later said that moving the trash receptable’s location should not be a problem and that screening and landscaping could also be implemented if there’s an additional challenge with its location. 

She added that because it’s a trash compactor and not a dumpster, it would minimize any smell and visual blight. 

Gaines also voiced concern over the development encompassing what could be a prime commercial lot on its northeastern corner. That corner would be vacant, per Continental’s current site plans. 

Johnson explained that the current property owner has long tried to get a retailer there but had been unsuccessful due to the area’s “biggest challenge” of varied topography and grading. 

“We’re not anticipating any programming for commercial development. I don’t know if we’d be opposed to parceling that off,” Johnson said. “I just don’t know what could realistically get built in that space.”

Gaines mentioned the county’s intent to attract businesses like medical offices, which don’t typically require large parcels. 

“The more that we continue to bring residential online, the more it costs [us]…so my focus for this particular area is more geared toward a commercial use than a residential use, just because we don’t want to do away with parcels that can be revenue generating versus expense generating,” Gaines said. 

In related news, this newspaper is publishing the following correction: A hearing date on a rezone for a proposed 332-home neighborhood was incorrectly specified in the June 15 edition of DCN. Although the application is online, there has not yet been a hearing scheduled for application ZA 22-15. DCN will provide an update when a date is set.