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Commission rejects rezone request for Browns Bridge Road lots
Dumping problems, other issues still wrapped up in courts
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Dumpsters and trucks sit parked on a Browns Bridge Road lot on Monday, May 21. Gary Chapman is hoping to rezone the lots next to Marine Specialties to accommodate his trucking and towing business, but a history of citations at the lot means the request is likely headed for rejection. - photo by Nick Bowman

The Hall County Board of Commissioners took a hard pass on a rezone request for a Browns Bridge Road property that has been the site of alleged illegal dumping near Lake Lanier.

With heaping complaints from neighbors and five citations from the Hall County Marshal’s Office stacked against him, commissioners unanimously shot down a request from Gary M. Chapman to change 4113, 4115 and 4117 Browns Bridge Road to the Highway-Business zone, which would have better accommodated his rolloff container and trucking business named Holy Rolloff based in metro Atlanta.

The vote was taken at the commission’s Thursday voting meeting. Six people spoke against the request, and Chapman himself, represented by lawyer Jim Adam, asked that the request be tabled for a couple of months to let him work to clean up the property.

One of the lots is already zoned Highway-Business, and Adam said that a previous owner or tenant had dumped material on the property before Chapman began leasing the lots.

The previous dumping was intended to extend the lot, and when Chapman came in he dumped additional concrete on the lot. 

“It was an impetuous and wrong thing he’s trying to clarify, or fix, now,” Adam said.

But fixing it would require time, he said. Denying the request would mean that he couldn’t make another for six months, and the county laid a stop-work order on the property after marshals discovered Chapman was operating without a business license, without the correct zoning, with commercial vehicles not registered in Hall County and on a site that drains into Lake Lanier.

“Matt’s not responsible for all of the pre-existing dumping, but he’s willing to try to clean it up and he’d like to come into compliance,” Adam said. “To deny him now is a disincentive and the property will remain like it is, and if anything the county will have to go back against the owner.”

Tabling it would do “nothing but allow him to work and improve the property,” he said.

But a half-dozen speakers against the request called into question the business owner’s reliability on that front.

Robert Grove lives in a gated community across Browns Bridge Road from the lot.

“He is a rule-breaker,” Grove said, getting heated when describing the condition of the lot and the comments made at the Hall County Planning Commission earlier in May. “I couldn’t get by with it, and you couldn’t get by with it. How he’s getting by with it, breaking rule after rule after rule — we call those habitual rule breakers.”

Jeff Daniel lives on Fincher Drive below the property. He said he and his neighbors lived for years with runoff issues from nearby Mincey Marble in their cove and was now worried they’d get more of the same from the creek that runs near the debated properties.

Diana Daniel, another neighbor, had similar complaints. She said the Flat Creek area has had enough water quality problems.

“We don’t need any more of those contaminants,” she told the commission.

Ultimately, commissioners decided against tabling the request and instead unanimously denied it. 

The citations against Chapman are still working their way through Hall County Magistrate Court. Each one is considered a misdemeanor charge and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and 60 days in jail, according to the Marshal’s Office.