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Gainesville hears opinions on subdivision

POSTED: December 16, 2007 5:03 a.m.

After much discussion, the Gainesville City Council gave the developers of a Cleveland Highway subdivision a unanimous nod of approval at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Brian Rochester, who spoke on behalf of Cleveland Highway LLC, addressed some of the concerns that had been expressed over the proposed development.

Rochester said the developers would add four conditions to the ones the planning staff had recommended in order to appease some of the developers' neighbors.

"Not that 15 weren't enough, we're actually proposing a couple more conditions on top of this ... to try to address some of the concerns of the neighborhood," Rochester said.

To counter arguments that the proposed development's community septic system would be a problem, Rochester offered to allow the city to maintain the community septic system.

"If you decide you do want it, we will give it to the city at no cost," Rochester said.

To address concerns about erosion, Rochester said the developer would only clear trees on a case-by-case basis. Initially, the only clearing that will be done to the property is what will be needed to pave the road.

"I think there's some people very concerned that they'll just come in and mass-grade the whole lot," Rochester said.

The developers would also maintain a building setback of 10 feet along the northwest property line, and install no-spill lighting, Rochester said.

Some residents spoke in favor of the proposal, citing the importance of individual property rights.

"I think it's time that - instead of bringing all the guidelines that limit what a man can do with his property - it's time we started looking at what property rights the people have," said Walter Byrd, a resident of 698 Mountainview Circle. "I would like very much for this man to be able to do what he desires with his property."

Nearly the same amount of people attended the meeting to oppose the proposed subdivision.

Tony Herdener, a resident of Chattahoochee Landing subdivision, said the city should deny the application, because it was the government's responsibility to balance the interests of the developers with the interests of the neighboring residents.

Herdener insisted that the real density measure of the property would have to be based on seven acres of property, since 2.36 acres of the property will be used for the community septic system. Eighteen homes on seven acres would make for about 2.6 houses per acre, Herdener said.

The planning department counts gross acreage, which is 9.35 acres on the Cleveland Highway property, when calculating home density, City Manager Bryan Shuler said at last week's council work session.

After hearing all the arguments, the council voted unanimously to approve first reading of the annexation and rezoning of the property with Rochester's four additional conditions.
Council members also voted 3-1 to deny a proposal by Harold Hinchman, owner of the Agora House for Men, to rezone two buildings, located at 610 and 614 Grove Street, from Light Industrial to General Business.

The planning department had recommended approval of the request, as did the majority of planning board members.

However, when Ruth Bruner made a motion to hold first reading of the ordinance, a pregnant pause followed.

"Do I have a motion to second?" Hamrick asked more than three times before saying that Bruner's motion had failed.

Councilman George Wangemann then motioned to deny the rezoning request, and said he was concerned that the Midtown area was the wrong place to have a recovery program like Hinchman's.

Councilman Danny Dunagan seconded Wangemann's motion, citing issues with the number of people that would be residing in the building.

"I think it's too many," Dunagan said.

After the meeting, Bruner explained her motion supporting the Hinchman request.

"We've asked them to find appropriate zoning, and I think that he did that," Bruner said. "He's in good faith trying to do what we want ... and that's why I was trying to support his program."

Bruner said she thought 38 people in a group home was "pushing the envelope," however, and she understood the way the other council members voted.

"Hopefully, Mr. Hinchman can come up with another location," Bruner said. "Maybe with less people ... not to have 38 all in one lump.


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