Residents of a Hoschton subdivision pushed back against a proposed car wash — even holding a small protest Sunday — but city leaders have delayed their decision.
The Hoschton City Council voted 4-1 on Monday (Sept. 19) to table a vote on the car wash, which is proposed for a 1.38-acre tract on Hwy. 53 and Eagles Bluff Way near Creekside Village. Adam Ledbetter voted in opposition to the postponement.
The developer seeks a rezoning for the property from mixed use to commercial motor vehicle service and repair to allow for the car wash. City planner Jerry Weitz recommended denial of the request, though he recommended multiple conditions for the project should the council approve it.
Seven residents, mostly from Creekside Village, spoke out against the car wash at the council’s Thursday (Sept. 15) work session.
Opponents said the car wash would hurt their home values and wouldn’t fit with the character of the city.
“I strongly feel that it would have a negative impact on our property values,” Creekside resident Jennifer Wilkes said. “It’s not the look or vibe we’re going for.”
Wilkes asked for a show of hands from the audience of those in opposition to the car wash, the vast majority of which raised their hands. Other residents contended that multiple car washes are already within a short drive. Creekside Village resident Laurie Lesniak, who said she felt “blindsided” by the potential car wash, pointed to potential noise issues. She said she visited a Braselton car wash and took noise readings, reporting a maximum decibel level reading of 85.1 with an average of 69.5.
“That puts us in the loud range for probably most of the day,” she said.
The applicant for the project, Kenneth Whitworth, said an in-town car wash was a needed new business that would save Hoschton residents from having to cross I-85 to use a car wash. He also speculated that the car wash wouldn’t generate new traffic, saying those using this car wash are already driving on Hwy. 53 through Hoschton. He said plans call for “an upscale car wash,” similar to Tidal Wave, with 10 employees. Whitworth said the car wash would include an extra exit on Hwy. 53 to aid traffic flow.
But councilman Tracy Carswell on Monday made a motion to table the council’s vote on the matter for a month, saying the zoning signage placement did not accurately represent the location of the car wash in relationship to the neighborhood. Additionally, Ledbetter said the car wash would not be situated directly in front of the subdivision.
“I just want to mention that if anyone took the time to actually look at the drawings, they’d see it’s not at that location where the signs were,” he said.
Ledbetter said the car wash would be situated “all the way in the corner” of the lot.
“It’s nowhere in front of Creekside, at all,” he said.
Similarly, Mayor Lauren O’Leary noted that the rezoning notice signs displayed on the lot were placed in front of Creekside.
“And that’s not the desired location that has been presented to mayor and council,” O’Leary said.
The council’s action came after a small protest of the car wash was organized Sunday among Creekside Village residents. Opponents held up “no car wash” signs and also signed a petition, which had generated approximately 200 names as of Sunday afternoon.
WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
The council approved a series of water system improvements aimed at alleviating the city’s water pressure issues on the south end of town.
It voted to approve professional engineering services from Engineering Management Inc. (EMI) for a water booster pump station associated with connections to Braselton’s water system and a water system booster pump station on Amy Industrial Ln., where an easement has been secured for that project.
“It will improve pressures and flows down in Cresswind and Twin Lakes (neighborhoods) substantially,” Jerry Hood of EMI said.
Hood said the booster-pumping station is part of a comprehensive water improvement plan the city approved a couple of years ago. The project is estimated to cost $625,000, though the city landed a $400,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant last year.
Proposed first-phase improvements to the city’s water distribution system were approved as well. Those improvements will upgrade multiple lines in town to 12-inch lines. Those replacements would begin on the line at Hwy. 53 and Broad St., go down White St. and Industrial Blvd., and then down to Jopena Blvd.
“That will put a 12-inch loop all the way down,” Hood said. "With the booster pump and the new (Northside), tank that increases the fire flow in Cresswind and Twin Lakes almost 70%."
The council also approved an engineering services agreement addendum with EMI for a long-planned project to improve the city’s water reclamation facility to a 950,000 million gallon-per-day capacity.
CHANGE ORDERS APPROVED FOR CITY SQUARE
The council approved $43,575 in change orders from Garland and Associate Contractors for its City Square in-fill project where Hoschton’s new city hall is being constructed. The changes included $6,875 for removal of a tree in danger of falling on power lines and poles and also a revised site work estimate at an additional $36,700. Ledbetter recused himself from the vote because the tree requiring removal was located on his property. The council approved the change orders 4-0.
In other business, the council:
•approved an update to the city’s five-year comprehensive plan.
•approved a $17,085 bid from O.C. Roofing to replace the roof on the city’s police station facility.
•approved federal per-diem rates for employee and the mayor and council travel expenses. It also approved a new on-call policy that would pay employees $100 for being on-call, plus any hours worked at time-and-a half.
•approved annual tank-maintenance agreements with American Tank Maintenance for the city’s downtown and Northside tanks for $13,409 and $18,424, respectively. The annual fee for the downtown tank after six years will drop to $6,550. The tank, however, is scheduled to come off line, leaving the city to decide what to do with the landmark. Meanwhile, the Northside tank’s annual maintenance rate won’t be charged until the tank’s one-year warranty is complete.
•approved the appointments of Diane Blankenship, Carol Tanner and Dorothy McAlvin to the Hoschton Historic Preservation Committee.
•tabled action on a proposed playground on Cabin Dr.
•voted to hire a company to even out the corner of city-owned property at White St. and Broad St. and spread mulch where trees have been cut down on the property. The council also approved an expenditure, up to $10,000, to put gravel on the lot. The city plans to use the lot for extra parking space for downtown events until it can determine the property’s long-term use.
•approved a final plat for Twin Lakes Phase 6B. The council also approved Phase 6A and 7 during a called meeting on Sept. 8.