The developers of a planned residential community off Carl-Bethlehem Road next to the Barrow Crossing Shopping Center will have to wait a little longer on a Winder City Council decision over whether to modify zoning conditions that would help their goal of changing the development from a mix of apartments and townhomes to all townhomes.
During its Tuesday, April 6 meeting, the council voted 5-1 — with councilman Sonny Morris opposed to councilman Chris Akins’ motion — to table the requests after Akins and councilwoman Holly Sheats requested that the council have more time to review the applicants’ requested new conditions. The council is now scheduled to take the issue back up at its work session scheduled for April 29, which would put the requests up for a vote at the May 4 council voting session.
Farm Development, LLP was granted a request last August to rezone 67 acres at 399 Carl-Bethlehem Rd., on the south side of Highway 316 and to the east of the shopping center, in order to build 300 apartment units and 99 townhomes, along with several amenities. But the developer has since switched gears and now intends to develop the property with 349 townhomes and no apartments.
Because of that, the applicants are asking to reduce the required front- and side-yard setbacks from 35 to 13 feet, which Lanham said would leave 25 feet between front of the house and sidewalks (allowing for driveway and garage parking) and would be in keeping with typical townhome developments.
They are also seeking relief from one of the conditions on the rezoning and are now requesting eliminating the planned 5,000-square-foot clubhouse that would have been next to a swimming pool and instead having two separate pools with smaller cabanas. The planned nature trails, pedestrian paths and dog parks would remain as amenities.
The city planning board last month recommended denial of the setback request, but Shane Lanham, an attorney representing the applicants, said approving the setbacks would help ease concerns about on-street parking. A homeowners’ association would be responsible for the inner streets of the development. Lanham said the applicants are also agreeable to requests from residents of neighboring properties to install vegetative screening and fencing buffers.
The latest request has also drawn some pushback from the Barrow County School System over the amount of additional bedrooms and children an all-townhome development of that size might bring.
While the overall number of dwelling units would be reduced from 399 to 349 under the proposed change in scope, the number of bedrooms would likely increase by more than 200. When the city council approved the rezoning last summer, it did so with the condition that at least 40 percent (120) of the apartments be one-bedroom units and no more than 5 percent (15) be three-bedroom units. Under the new proposal, Lanham has said all 349 units would be at least three bedrooms with the possibility of some four-bedroom units — meaning there would be at least 1,047 bedrooms in the development. If the project were developed under the original plan with the city council stipulations in effect, even if the remaining 165 apartment units all had two bedrooms, that would only total roughly 800 bedrooms for the entire development.
In other business Tuesday, the council:
•approved a request to annex and rezone 3.59 acres at 851 Loganville Hwy., Bethlehem, in order for the applicants to build a 2,700-square-foot coffee shop and a 3,751-square-foot restaurant to the south of a planned RaceTrac gas station on the western side of the highway. The applicants sought the annexation because setback requirements under the current Barrow County zoning for the property would have only allowed the property to be developed in two separate parcels, while the applicants wanted three separate parcels. The back part of the property will be reserved for potential future development.
•awarded a $448,000 contract to Eagle Dynamic Solutions to dredge the raw water pond at the Winder-Auburn water treatment plant.
•approved the budgeted purchase of utility truck and spray for the Chimneys Golf Course at a combined price of $41,594.
•approved a special-event permit for the CASA Block Party at The Plaza at Jackson from 6-9 p.m. April 24, which will include street closures along Athens, Jackson and Candler streets. Alcohol consumption in the party zone will also be permitted.
•approved a special-event permit for a concert by the Swinging Medallions, hosted by the Downtown Development Authority and Akins Ford, set for 7-10 p.m. May 22 at Jug Tavern Park. Alcohol consumption at the park will be permitted from 6-10 p.m.
•appointed Howard Evans and Jennifer Faulk to fill two vacant posts on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
•approved a proclamation declaring April “Safe Digging Month.”
In a called meeting Thursday, April 1, the council:
•approved a pair of Fiscal Year 2021 budget amendments — one where the city will fund membership and retirement enrollment in the supplemental Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund for all sworn officers within the Winder Police Department, and the other to reclassify experienced and non-sworn police cadets to higher pay rates, retroactive to the current fiscal year. Chief Jim Fullington has recommended the changes as part of an effort to improve retention rates in the department. Both items will be budget-neutral and paid for through salary savings.
•extended the grace period for the city’s occupational tax deadline by one month to May 15.
•postponed a vote on first reading of a new “unfit buildings” ordinance to allow for further discussion.
•approved new rates and fees for the Chimneys.