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Dawson County BOC approves rezonings for gun range, residential developments
FB DCN Government County

At their voting session on Thursday night, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners approved rezoning requests for two proposed developments and allowed the owners of Dawsonville Gun and Pawn to go forward with plans for an indoor shooting range facility. 

The development rezonings approved by the board include a 194-lot residential subdivision, planned to be built at the intersection of Dawson Forest and Blacks Mill roads, and a 120-unit mixed-use residential/commercial development proposed to be built near Lumpkin Campground Road and Hwy. 53. 

Commissioners also approved a 90-day moratorium on new rezoning requests in multiple different zoning categories, so that the county can conduct a study on efficiency and costs associated with different zoning categories. 

Gun range rezoning approved 

After facing no public opposition at its public hearing and receiving unanimous approval from the Dawson County Planning Commission, a proposal by Dawsonville Gun and Pawn owner Paul Mincey to build a 10-stall, 7,000 square foot indoor gun range was given the green light on Thursday night. 

According to Mincey and Dawson County Planning Director Jameson Kinley, the proposed gun range will be built by InVeris Training Solutions, an international gun range building company, on a 3.43-acre property directly west of Dawsonville

 Gun and Pawn on Hwy. 53. 

The gun range will be a totally separate building from the gun and pawn shop, but will use the driveways already in use at the location, Mincey said. 

“We’ve been open many years, contributed to society, God knows how much tax money I’ve sent y’all,” Mincey said, eliciting a laugh from the audience. “There’s a lot of potential for education for the public and possibly police training there as well. It would be convenient for the county.”

Commissioners also heard from Heath Shaw, a representative of InVeris Training Solutions, who said that his company has built over 13,000 ranges across the world, including multiple ranges in Atlanta and Lawrenceville. 

Shaw said that with the design they have planned for Dawson County, the gun range will have basically no impact on the surrounding area, and will make no more noise than a typical vehicle repair shop. 

The rezoning was approved 3-0, with District 3 Commissioner Chris Gaines abstaining from the vote due to his ongoing business relationship with the applicant. 

Two residential developments approved

Starting out the zoning portion of the voting session, the board heard presentations from Kinley and George Butler, who represents owners of a 111-acre plot of land off Dawson Forest Road. 

Board members were told that the rezoning would take the property from Residential Agriculture (RA) to RS2 in order to build a 194-lot subdivision with a large tract of undisturbed green space and a passive park. 

The rezoning request had previously come before the board in January 2021, when a public hearing was held on the matter, but the request was tabled at that meeting so applicants could bring more information to the board. 

Speaking to the board, Butler listed a string of conditions that the landowners and developers had agreed on to move the project forward, giving specific details on the development’s proposed passive park, ways that the neighborhood would buffer any disturbances to the surrounding community for conservation purposes and specifications that would be required for homes developed in the neighborhood. 

After a short discussion, the rezoning was approved 3-0 with District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett recused due to, “a small personal interest” in the property through inheritance. 

Commissioners also gave the go-ahead to a rezoning request for a commercial/multi-family residential development that has been proposed to be built at Lumpkin Campground Road N and Hwy. 53 E, near the Regions Bank and Regal Dawson 400. 

According to Kinley the request previously came before the board in 2019, when it was approved by the planning commission, but denied by the board of commissioners. 

Kinley said that since that denial, the proposed development has been trimmed down from a 140-unit development over 23 acres, with a 1.7-acre commercial portion, to a 120 unit development over 20 acres and a 5-acre commercial portion. 

The new design of the development, according to Kinley, is compliant with the county’s future land use plan and has been recommended for approval by the Dawson County Planning Commission. 

No public comments were given on the proposal and after a brief discussion, the rezoning was approved 4-0, contingent on multiple stipulations concerning how the residential and commercial phases would be constructed and roadway improvements made in the immediate vicinity. 

Zoning moratorium approved 

Following rezoning hearings, Gaines brought forward a motion to put a 90-day moratorium on all new applications for certain zoning classifications, so that the county can complete a series of studies on efficiency and “cost for delivery” for zoning categories.

“I think the data that’s going to be given from the study is going to be instrumental in some of the zoning decisions that we have to make in the future, as well as efficiencies of our operations internally,” Gaines said. 

Gaines said that the moratorium would cover the county’s Residential Suburban (RS2 and RS3), Residential Multi-Family (RMF), Commercial Planned Comprehensive Development (CPCD) and Mixed Use Village (MUV) zoning classifications and would only affect new applications for rezonings. 

The motion put forward by Gaines also approved $15,000 to fund the two studies, which the county is currently in the process of coordinating. 

This motion was unanimously approved 4-0.