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Rezoning approved for Grandview at Lanier project
GrandView at Lanier 1

Following news of a proposed settlement with the developer, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a rezone request of 59.5 acres for 139 residential units off of Ga. 53 near Elliott Road. 

The request was approved with a list of stipulations that Planning Director Sharon Farrell read into the record during the meeting. 

BOC rezone 3

On May 5, the commissioners voted to approve a settlement agreement between Dawson Forest Holdings and the county for the GrandView at Lanier subdivision. The subdivision’s renewed concept plans are part of that proposed settlement. 

GrandView at Lanier first came into public discourse in the beginning of 2018.

At that time, the developer requested a rezoning of parcels TMP L13-081 and 114-033 from CHB (Commercial Highway Business) and RA (Residential Agriculture) to RMF (Residential Multi-Family) and RS3 (Residential Suburban 3).  

Then in February 2018, a lawyer for Dawson Forest Holdings sued the then-county commissioners individually and in their government capacities, alleging that their refusal to change the zoning classification infringed the developer’s property rights. 

BOC rezone 2

The developer wanted 16.5 acres rezoned to RMF for the townhouses in the western part of the land and then 43-plus acres to the east of a creek rezoned to RS3. 

The subdivision is planned to have 55 multi-family residences and 84 single-family ones, for an overall density of 2.33 residential units per acre.

Miles, Hansford and Tallant lawyer Joshua Scoggins spoke on behalf of Dawson Forest Holdings. Scoggins described the minimum square footage for the townhomes and single-family homes to be 1,000 and 2,000 square feet respectively. He estimated the prices for each to be “high 200s” and “high 300s.” 

This iteration of the subdivision includes 38 less homes than the initially-planned 177. Scoggins said the presented concept plan is one with which his client can be happy, calling the development a conservation subdivision that better uses topography and open areas and saves taxpayers money by helping resolve the litigation.

Per those rules, the concept plan included space for an event lawn and park and a minimum of 23 acres for open space.

A main entrance is planned coming into the development from Ga. 53. A gated, unpaved emergency access is planned on the eastern side of the land bordering Elliott Road. This secondary entrance will have grass and be load-bearing so that regular drivers are not encouraged to drive into it. 

Back at the May 5 BOC meeting, county manager David Headley shared staff’s recommendation to overlay Elliott Road where possible on its eastern or non-residential side and add a two to four-foot shoulder and pull offs to help improve sight distance.

Additionally, the developer is to dedicate a 15-foot right of way along Elliott Road. Behind that strip of space would be a required 50-foot graded and replanted buffer with a six-foot berm along the road. The trees in the buffer would include over 40 percent evergreen species, Farrell said. 

Also included in the stipulations were several other buffer conditions relating to adjacent tracts and distance from waterways.

As a lake-area resident, Tony Passarello expressed his concern about the impact of the development’s construction on proximate streams and Lake Lanier, citing how runoff and stormwater mismanagement during past construction has made the nearby cove unusable. 

He estimated the development will have about 280 feet of lake frontage and asked for additional  stipulations like doubling the waterway buffers, increasing county-level stormwater monitoring and publication of findings and prohibiting disposal of concrete washout within 500 feet of the state streams and lake.

District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield and District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley reaffirmed that such findings could and would be made publicly available. 

At least one person also wondered about protections against sewer spills, given the planned location of a sewer pump on the concept schematics.

“I don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize the water…not at all,” said District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett. 

Scoggins later said that the developer has increased the lots’ setback to allow for the 25 and 50-foot buffers, even though they can legally run the lots right up to the bodies of water. 

Multiple county officials at the meeting commented on how regulations at the county, state and federal levels have been strengthened over the past few years. 

Scoggins added that the regulations “are not something that’s played around by developers now” and elaborated that “millions of dollars in liability” hang on minding runoff-related rules. 

Satterfield pointed to the county’s intent to add a stormwater projects manager onto staff in the future, which County Manager David Headley presented at the June 2 work session. 

Multiple speakers also shared concerns about how the development would likely stress already-busy emergency services, particularly Fire Station 2, and cost the county more to service than the taxes that would be generated. 

Fausett later sympathized with the public speakers, saying she didn’t want people to be miserable in the homes they’ve built and bought. 

“My loyalty is to those who are already here,” she said. “To me, your comments do 

make a difference. I do listen and take notes…and this isn’t just a formality. I want something to come out of it.” 

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines added that the development’s initial impact was projected to be much worse and said they’ve come a long way in getting it to where it is now in the plans. 

“Nobody leaves happy,” he said. “I don’t think the developer’s happy because they wanted more lots, and we’re not fully happy because we didn’t want any lots.”

Gaines said it comes down to “the middle ground” and reaffirmed this plan as being the best one yet where “both sides have come to the table to try to mitigate the concerns that both of us have as much as possible.”