The Gainesville City Council made the first step Tuesday toward the development of property across Ga. 53 from the popular chain restaurants Cheddar’s and Olive Garden.
The council gave preliminary approval to a rezoning proposal made by America’s Home Place that makes it possible for three new businesses to locate on the property.
In planning documents, those businesses are described as “various retail restaurant and vehicle services” businesses.
The rezoning effort, though praised as a job creator by its advocates, had some opposition from residents of a nearby neighborhood.
The 4.71-acre property sits some 500 feet from the residential area and is currently zoned for residential and office purposes.
Michael Proulx, a Lakeshore Circle resident, asked the council to consider the economic investment that the residents of the Lakeshore subdivision have made in the city.
He worried about the impacts that the rezoning would have on the neighborhood, and whether it would open the door for further commercial encroachment.
“I ask you to see through the numbers,” Proulx told the council.
Another Lakeshore Circle resident, Linda Hawkins, echoed the sentiment. She said residents knew that a portion of the property that is directly beside the highway — that is already zoned for business use — would eventually be used as such.
But she said that the council should consider the impact of the development on a neighborhood that residents were “trying to salvage.”
Specifically, her concerns centered on the noise and security issues more commercial development would bring.
She said the residents had experienced issues with both as a shopping center anchored by a Best Buy store came to the area in previous years.
She also asked that council members seek approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation for a traffic light.
“You know we believe in economic development,” she said. “But there comes a point when it has to be a balance between economic development and neighborhoods. ... There’s economic development for both.”
Council members voted unanimously to approve the proposal with several conditions they said would protect the neighborhood. They also promised to respond to any complaints neighbors had about the development as it happened.
“It’s really important to me that we protect neighborhoods,” Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said.
The item won’t get a final vote until the council’s Aug. 21 meeting.
Another issue that was before the board Tuesday, a proposal to rezone a 0.25-acre parcel on North Avenue out of a neighborhood conservation zoning to residential and office, was withdrawn.