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Some speak out against development at Hall planning meeting

POSTED: May 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.


A developer’s proposal to construct nine office warehouses on Old Winder Highway drew about 20 protesters to the Hall County Planning Commission meeting Monday.

The voices of opposition succeeded in convincing the planning commission to recommend Hall County Commissioners deny the developers’ rezoning request when it comes before the commission on May 22 for final action.

Before Monday’s meeting, the planning commission had delayed the developer’s rezoning request to allow the developer time to meet with owners of the more than 30 homes near the proposed site of development.

HMR Partnership of Forsyth County again asked the planning commission Monday to consider rezoning 35 acres next to The Ridge at Chestnut Mountain subdivision from agriculture residential to highway business.

Mike Mahone of HMR Partnership spoke for the proposed development at the meeting, and said he wanted to build the office warehouses to accommodate a shopping center, an auto maintenance shop, a day care center and offices with warehousing.

Mahone said he met with residents of The Ridge twice to discuss the proposed development. He said he held a community meeting in early March and another in late April, which proved to be unproductive due to residents’ intense opposition.

Seven representatives from the neighborhood spoke against the development Monday, citing concerns that it might lower their property values and quality of life.

Residents also said they were concerned that if the commission approved the 35 acres for highway business development, that might catalyze more commercial development along the two-lane highway.

Linda Snyder, a resident of The Ridge, said she wanted to know exactly what types of businesses would be moving into the office warehouses. According to county requirements, HMR Partnership is not required to specify the types of businesses that would operate within the highway business development at this stage in the approval process.

"No one is in support of the development in the subdivision — everyone to my knowledge was concerned," Snyder said. "The timing of the widening of Highway 211 is a big point for me. Obviously it’s all going to change when it’s widened, but until then, we don’t want to live in a pocket of residential in an area zoned commercial."

Chris Braswell, chairman of the Hall County Planning Commission, suggested the developer consider presenting the project as a planned commercial development, which would provide county officials with more specifics on the types of businesses operating in the proposed office warehouses.

"Some of the usage on the back closer to the neighborhood was not quite clear," Braswell said. "At this time, I cannot support this project."

The planning commission recommended county commissioners deny the rezoning request with a vote of 3-0.


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