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Gainesville City Council denies Lake Knickerbocker housing request
Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett administers the oath of office Tuesday to Police Chief Carol Martin.

Other business

In other action Tuesday night:

• City Manager Kip Padgett swore in Carol Martin as the city’s new police chief. She has served as interim chief since August, replacing Brian Kelly, who resigned after a city investigation into personnel concerns within the department.

• Council gave its final OK on increasing burial rates and fees for other services at the 140-year-old municipal-owned Alta Vista Cemetery.

Jeff Gill

Gainesville City Council rejected a couple’s request Tuesday to change an original zoning to allow a fourth residential lot on Lake Knickerbocker, a high-end neighborhood off the Chattahoochee Golf Club.

The petition from Tread and Deborah Syfan was denied following objections from several residents, whose complaints included worries the move would negatively affect the lake’s heavily silted waters.

“It appears to me that (residents) feel that they gave you what you wanted to start with and now you want to do further,” Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said. “To me, it seems like an issue of trust rather than how much you’re going to destroy the neighborhood.”

The property was originally zoned for three homes sharing a common driveway.

The Syfans had sought to amend the existing planned unit development on 5.4 acres on Greystone Road, west of Tommy Aaron Drive, permitting four single-family residential lots.

Their plans called for renovating a house now on the property “for their personal residence,” the application states.

“I’ve tried to explain my circumstances in how we came to want the additional lot,” Tread Syfan said, responding to Figueras’ concerns. “We didn’t expect there would be a recession and real estate values would go through the floor. Things change.”

Earlier, the couple wanted three lots, Syfan said.

“At that time, we were going to tear the house down. But today, with real estate values what they are, it doesn’t make sense to tear the house down.”

The Syfans also faced opposition from David Gleason, president of the Lake Lanier-Knickerbocker Protective Association.

Gleason said the association’s goal is not to stop development but to work to ensure there is “no further damage to an already sensitive environment.”

“Our concern ... is that once we begin down the slippery slope of subdividing properties, we run the risk of further damage to our lake, the fish, wildlife and migrating birds,” he said.

Syfan said he would comply with all stormwater regulations as needed.

“They are more stringent than the ones that these people who are complaining here tonight had to abide by,” he said. “This is one more lot in a 2,000-acre basin. It will have a negligible impact.”

The Syfans’ request got support from Councilmen George Wangemann and Sam Couvillon, as well as Mayor Danny Dunagan.

“I don’t see where … having a fourth lot there is going to make a drastic difference,” Couvillon said, adding he gave the issue careful thought.

Figueras and council members Ruth Bruner and Bob Hamrick opposed the request, resulting in a 3-3 tie, which is the same as denial.

Syfan said afterward he was disappointed by the vote, but “we still have three lots. I’ll have to redraw the lots to save the house, which is what I’ll do.

“Fortunately, I can do that without having to go through City Council or the planning (and appeals board). I just have to have it approved by staff that it meets the current zoning.”

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