In a divided vote during the Oct. 17 meeting of the Dawsonville City Council, the mayor and council members approved an annexation and rezoning request for 33.98 acres of land located off of Perimeter Road for the construction of 195 rental apartment units.
According to a presentation by developer Jim Chapman during the council’s Oct. 3 meeting, Jim Chapman Communities, Inc. is requesting for the annexation of three acres into city limits, followed by the rezoning of that tract and just under 31 additional acres from R1 (Restricted Single-Family Residential District) to R6 (Multiple-Family Residential District).
Upon rezoning, the developer wants to then construct 195 apartment units with a density of 5.74 units per acre.
In his presentations to both the planning commission and the city council, Chapman explained that his goal is to build a development similar to The Cottages at Dawson Ridge, which is located at 500 North Lumpkin Campground Road in Dawson County. The biggest difference, he said, is that the proposed new development would be a gated community.
Each of the units would have the master on the main and at least a one-car garage, and the community’s amenities would include a clubhouse, pool and dog park, he said. In Dawson Ridge, which should be comparable to the new development, he said that there is an average of 1.95 occupants per unit, the average age is 41 years old, 57.8 percent of occupants are single and the average income per door is $182,560.
The Dawsonville Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the requests during its Sept. 12 meeting, saying that the proposed project would not support the city’s comprehensive plan. In a public hearing at the same time, residents of adjoining developments voiced concerns about impacts on the traffic, congestion and on the school system.
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners also heard the request on Sept. 16 and voted to send a letter objecting the proposed annexation to the mayor and council.
The city council held a public hearing for the matter on Oct. 3, asking questions of Chapman and Joey Homans from Fox, Chandler, Homans, Hicks & McKinnon, LLP, the firm representing the developer. No members of the public spoke during the council’s public hearing.
At the Oct. 17 meeting, council member Mark French made a motion to approve the requests with the condition that the developer agrees to meet almost all of the list of guidelines set forth by the planning department.
According to the packet for the meeting, these guidelines include a no-access easement adjoining Highway 53 East and Perimeter Road frontage boundary, the installation of sanitary lines and sewer manholes up to Perimeter Road right-of-way, the applicant donating funds of $1000 per unit for future intersection improvements at Perimeter Road and Highway 9 South and of $500 per unit for future intersection improvements at Perimeter Road and Highway 53 East, and the installation of a dedicated left turn lane on Perimeter Road and the development’s first driveway.
“I make a motion to approve with the condition that the developer agrees to meet the guidelines set out by the planning department, with the exception of the easement onto Highway 53,” French said. “I think that right-in right-out only entrance and exit would be very well placed there.”
Council members John Walden and Will Illg both voted against the requests, citing reasons similar to those of the planning commission members at their Sept. 12 meeting.
“First off, I’d like to thank the public who reached out to me via email, phone call and so forth,” Walden said. “I looked at this every which way I could and I don’t feel it meets the comprehensive plan overall… I have concerns with the traffic congestion and with the public safety and so forth, so I have to be a no on this one.”
Illg thanked both Chapman and Homans for their time answering questions about the application but also voted against the requests.
“I appreciate Jim and Joey, you guys meeting with us — I got a lot of information from you guys and I appreciate the meeting that we got to have,” Illg said. “For me… it kind of feels like to me putting a square peg in a round hole.”
The council members were split in their vote, with French and council member Caleb Phillips voting in favor and Walden and Illg voting against. Mayor Mike Eason acted as the tiebreaker, voting in favor of the requests to approve both the annexation and the rezoning in a 3-2 vote.