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Council will vote again on controversial rezoning

POSTED: June 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A controversial rezoning that two Gainesville City Council members thought they defeated nearly two weeks ago is back on the table.

The Gainesville City Council is expected to vote again on Tuesday to decide whether Easlan Capital of Atlanta can rezone a part of the Seasons on Lake Lanier planned unit development to allow for a RaceTrac gas station.

Council members discussed putting the issue back on the table at Thursday’s work session to allow for the majority vote required to deny or approve the developers wishes to rezone 10 acres of the Seasons on Lake Lanier development, which under its current zoning, does not allow for gas stations.

On May 20, the rezoning request seemed to die, because a motion to approve ended in a tie vote and council members moved on to other items on the agenda.

However, attorney Wes Robinson, who represents Easlan Capital of Atlanta, told council members Thursday that the city’s charter requires a majority vote and told them the issue would require another "second reading."

"The city charter requires a majority vote in order to take any action, including the denial of a second reading," Robinson said.

Robinson asked that the council hold another vote at its meeting Tuesday.

The May 20 vote may have ended in a final approval for a proposed RaceTrac gas station on the corner of Browns Bridge and McEver Roads had Councilman Danny Dunagan, who originally voted in favor of the rezoning, been present at the meeting. But Dunagan missed the May 20 meeting to go on vacation. As a result, all three votes taken on the issue ended in tie votes.

After two motions — one to table the discussion by Councilwoman Ruth Bruner and another to keep the rezoning from having a second reading at all by Councilman Bob Hamrick — died with tie votes, Councilman George Wangemann made a motion to approve the rezoning, but then he and Hamrick voted in opposition to that motion.

Thursday, Councilwoman Ruth Bruner, Mayor Myrtle Figueras and Dunagan — who voted in favor of the rezoning at the council’s May 6 meeting — all said they would like to see the rezoning come before the council at Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center.

"I was very bum-fungled at our last council meeting, and I’m not used to — in my 12 years, I ain’t used to what happened that day," Figueras said. "For me, as a courtesy to me, if to nobody else, I’d like for this to be placed back on the agenda so that we can actually discuss it ... It’s not characteristic for our council what happened the other day."

The Seasons on Lake Lanier development has hung in limbo since late 2007, when its original developers, Levitt & Sons, filed bankruptcy. Easlan Capital is trying to acquire 10 acres of the property that had been intended for upscale retail stores and restaurants. Jesse Shannon, a partner in the company’s Atlanta office, said if the rezoning is approved, then Easlan will sell 1.6 acres to RaceTrac for the gas station and build 20,000 square feet of "specialty retail shops" on 3 acres.

Four acres of the 10 is not buildable, because of the topography, Shannon said.

The residents of the 55-and-older community have vehemently opposed the rezoning, with more than 50 of them showing up at planning and council meetings in opposition.



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