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Gainesville officials skeptical of drive-thru proposal
City planning staff have recommended denial of rezoning
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The Gainesville City Council expressed concern Thursday that a proposal to build a drive-thru restaurant and small retail outlet at the intersection of Thompson Bridge Road and Virginia Circle remains incompatible with the adjacent residential neighborhood.

David Johnson, a local cardiovascular doctor, is asking the city to rezone three properties at the intersection, two of which have homes on the lots, from residential development to neighborhood business.

While recent changes to the proposal include additional landscaping buffers and allows for entrance-only access off Virginia Circle, city planning staff still recommended denying the rezoning request out of concerns that it is “inconsistent” with the city’s comprehensive plan and future development map.

“It should stay residential, in our opinion,” Community Development Director Rusty Ligon told councilmembers during a work session.

The planning and appeals board has twice recommended denial of the rezoning.

Several area residents spoke out against the proposed development at the board meeting earlier this month, with traffic, public safety and quality of life issues topping their list of concerns.

Gainesville attorney Steve Gilliam, who represents Johnson, has said that commercial development would come to the property fronting Thompson Bridge one way or another, but that making it a worthwhile development requires using a property that backs into the neighborhood.

Councilmember George Wangemann said the changes were “almost insignificant” and that the primary problem remains any access to or from Virginia Circle.

Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras called that point a “stickler.”

Mayor Danny Dunagan agreed, saying the drive-thru will have a high-density impact on the residential neighborhood.

City Council will vote on the rezoning request when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal courtroom of the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway.

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