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Ask The Times: Sorority houses closer to the street than some
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

The new sorority houses at Brenau on Prior Street spoil the look and feel of the college campus. Did the college have to get special zoning variances or exceptions to build them so close together and so close to the street?

An administrative variance for the Brenau’s new buildings was put into effect May 19, 2014, in order for the buildings to be 23 feet away from the right-of-way lane on Prior Street, according to Matt Tate, a planning manager for the city of Gainesville.

“The standard front setback requirement for this property is 30 feet from the (right-of-way),” Tate said.  “The administrative variance reduced the front setback a total of 7 feet.”

However, two of the new buildings are situated in the same spot as the buildings that were demolished.

Brenau President Ed Schrader said he believes the steep pitch of the roofs may make it seem the buildings are closer together.

But Schrader added the houses aren’t the closest together or closest to the street in the neighborhood.

The perspective of closeness may not be a bad thing, either, he said, noting it could generate “the feeling of an informal and comfortable residential community” according to the president.

The university demolished four sorority houses in order to build four in their place and add a residence hall across the street. Landscaping for the new buildings started recently.

“That portion of our project will generate an entirely new and open perspective. Of course, the entire new, fresh feeling will not be comprehendible until we see the new residence hall take shape across the street,” Schrader said.

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