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Dawsonville Planning Commission approves site plan for townhome community
Proposed plan to go before city council in December
City hall

During the Nov. 8 meeting of the Dawsonville Planning Commission, the commission approved the site plan for a proposed townhome community to be built off of Maple Street in Dawsonville. 

According to the information packet included with the application, Cook Communities has petitioned site plan approval for a single-family attached dwelling located at 362 Maple Street. Gainesville attorney Jane Range spoke during the meeting to the planning commission members on behalf of the applicant, explaining that the company is asking for permission to construct 31 townhomes on the parcel of land. 

“The property is zoned in the multi-family district and townhomes are an allowed use within the district and they are asking for permission for 31 homes,” Range said. “Basically, the site plan approval is all that was necessary since it’s already zoned with townhomes.” 

Range presented the site plan to the planning commission, explaining that the proposed development would be a single-entrance road with a cul-de-sac, a retention pond and the 31 townhomes. The proposed townhomes as presented during the meeting would be 1600 square feet, three bedroom, two and a half bath units and would be in line with the minimum requirements needed for the district. 

She added that the designs of the proposed units have been altered in the current plan from previous ones to add more differentiation between units, rather than having them all look the same. 

“The only issue that came up during staff review was to do a little modulation in the front and to try and add more brick, so what they have done is changed fronts and rooflines and window trim,” Range said. “The units are staggered somewhat so they will not form one single large line across the whole front — some [are] shuttered, some not shuttered, some batten board, some straight plank, and some with a third story window up there to change the outward appearance.” 

Anna Toblinski, Post 4 planning commissioner, questioned the applicant about whether there will be a fence along the boundary lines of the proposed development. Keith Cook, the owner of Cook Communities, said that his company usually adds a vegetated buffer all the way around their developments with staggered tree lines. 

Post 3 planning commissioner Sandy Sawyer asked Cook whether the development would have a homeowners association. Cook answered that the development would have an HOA and that all of the yards would be professionally landscaped. 

During the presentation of the proposed development, Planning and Zoning Director David Picklesimer raised questions to the applicant regarding several conditions that were included with the parcel’s zoning, including the requirement that the development be identified as an “active adult community”. 

"They will be required to incorporate the verbage for this active adult living community; it’ll have to be part of the covenants also,” Picklesimer said. “It’s R3 zoning with the zoning condition for active adult living and other conditions also; the insides of the homes would have to meet certain requirements.” 

Toblinski added that another of the conditions was that 20 percent of the units should meet handicap accessibility requirements. Cook said that, while his company usually includes a couple handicap accessible units, they typically leave it up to the homeowner to customize when they move in. 

According to the planning director’s notes in the information packet included with the application, “The R6 zoning was approved with the following conditions: dedicate additional right of way, covenants shall identify the project as active adult, widen Maple Street South asphalt travel lane two feet, twenty percent of the dwellings shall meet handicap accessibility requirements”. 

Picklesimer advised the planning commission that, while the current proposed units don’t meet the stipulations set forth in the zoning approval, the issue on the table in Monday’s meeting is only to approve the site plan, which only includes the lot layout and street configuration. Because of this, he said that the planning commission could take action on approving or denying the site plan and that the applicant could work to either meet the conditions set forth in the current zoning or petition to rezone the property to allow for different guidelines. 

Range and Cook told the commissioners that they would work with Picklesimer to iron out the details of how to go about meeting the zoning requirements. 

“We will go ahead and work with David again to see what we need to do about the active adult and whether that will work out and whether we need any other zoning changes,” Range said. 

The planning commission voted unanimously to approve the site plan for the proposed development. The request is scheduled to go before the Dawsonville City Council with a public hearing on Dec. 8, and the council is scheduled to approve or deny the development on Dec. 20.