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Downtown Hoschton zoning laws getting new review
Project to be done in about 6 months
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Work to revamp Hoschton’s zoning ordinance continued last week with a focus on the city’s downtown development overlay district.

The Hoschton Zoning Code Update Advisory Committee was formed in June to help revamp the city’s zoning ordinance.

The project is expected to take six months and is being led by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission.

The committee met for a third time last Monday and, during the 45-minute meeting, focused on architectural guidelines for the downtown corridor. Dave Van De Weghe, a senior planner with the commission, talked with members about what specific guidelines they would like the corridor to embrace and those they wanted to avoid.

The committee agreed that building materials, height and other structural guidelines should create a historical appearance.

“I feel like when people come to our town, this is where they hit is right up and down through here (Ga. 53), I want them to feel like they’re in more of a hometown, historical type place,” said committee member and city councilwoman Theresa

Kenerly. “We need to try to keep that small-town look because that’s exactly what we are. We can never be anything but that.”

Topics discussed included storefronts and the need to have a uniform look in the district.

The downtown development overlay district stretches for one mile from the Braselton town limits to Peachtree Road.

Those in the district must follow specific guidelines that address anything from building design to architectural features.
Kenerly said she wanted to have a downtown area that was pedestrian friendly.

 For this scenario, Van De Weghe suggested parking for businesses should be located behind buildings with sidewalk access to storefronts.

Committee member Shane Short, also President/CEO of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, said he agreed that a uniform look would be more appealing rather than having a variety of building types.

“My wife just got back from Boston and she said one of the things that struck her was this really beautiful old building (was) right beside a very modern looking building and it just looks out of place,” he said. “You’re trying to avoid that, you’re trying to create that consistent, old town look.”

The committee agreed that buildings should be no more than three stories with wooden storefronts either made from wood or the masonry equivalent of it. Also discussed was whether to allow businesses that want a drive-thru.

The committee agreed that if a drive-thru is desired, it must be built behind the building or on the side with a portico to make it more visually appealing.

“These standards are going to apply to any sort of business that goes in there whether it’s a boutique or a McDonalds or Dollar General, they all have to meet this standard,” Van De Weghe said. “It offers the local government great protection in terms of being specific about what you require. You can simply hand this to a developer and it’s very clear what you expect.”

The committee has tentatively scheduled another meeting for 4:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Hoschton City Hall. Topics likely to be discussed include more on the downtown development overlay district, including landscaping and streetscaping, and also adopting a tree ordinance.