A local developer’s plans to build a large mixed-use, high-density residential development in Hoschton were rejected by the Barrow County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 13, following a contentious public hearing.
Commissioners voted 5-2 (with commissioners Joe Goodman and Bill Brown in opposition to the motion) to deny Ridgeline Land Planning and Holt Persinger’s request to rezone 53.2 acres at 1308 Lec Stone Rd. — about a mile south of the intersection of highways 211 and 124 — to R-3 in order to build 280 apartment units, 158 townhomes and commercial space on roughly 8.5 acres of the property. The decision came a little less than a month after the county planning commission recommended denial of the request, citing concerns raised by residents over the impact the development would have on traffic in the area, stormwater issues and property values for nearby neighborhoods.
“I have some serious reservations about this (project),” said commissioner Ben Hendrix, who seconded commissioner Billy Parks’ motion to deny the request. Parks said he took the county planning staff’s recommendation to only approve the rezoning with R-2 density (which would have eliminated the apartment component) as their opposition to the applicant’s request.
As they did at last month’s planning commission meeting, a large contingent of residents near the property showed up with signs urging the commissioners to vote no in the BOC chambers, while many others waited downstairs in a holding area at the Historic Barrow County Courthouse and watched a live video feed of the meeting — cheering loudly for those who spoke in opposition to the request and booing attorney Aaron Kappler, who was representing the applicant.
Kappler said property rights were at stake in the project and said that the board should not allow strong public resistance to control its decision.
“The law doesn’t allow for mob rule, and the law doesn’t tolerate anger,” Kappler said, adding that the proposed project was “perfectly situated” for future businesses and employment that would be coming to Barrow County and their prospective employees.
The handful of residents who spoke during the public hearing countered that it was their property rights under attack, along with their “quality of life.”
“This development is not good growth for Barrow County,” resident Bryan Capes told commissioners. “We are begging you to vote no on this horrendous development.”
REZONING FOR LARGE SUBDIVISION GETS GO-AHEAD
In an unrelated vote Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a requested change in conditions for the development of 92.23 acres just west of the intersection of highways 124 and 211 and south of Interstate 85 in Hoschton, clearing the way for the construction of a subdivision with up to 293 single-family homes and various amenities.
Shane Lanham, the attorney for applicant Manor Restorations, had requested the BOC table the item last month, but told the board Tuesday the applicants had finally resolved concerns over the projects after a Friday, Oct. 9 meeting with nearby residents.
The property was rezoned for master-planned mixed-use development in 2006 as part of a settlement between another developer and the county and had been planned to be developed with 197 single-family lots, 92 townhomes and 116,000 square feet of commercial space.
Instead, Manor Restorations was seeking changes to the conditions that were attached to the rezoning related to exterior building materials, and they opted to scrap the townhome and commercial components of the project.
The minimum heated square footage for the homes will be 2,000 square feet.