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Gainesville planning board gives woman OK to build circular driveway
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The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board voted on Tuesday to approve a request for a circular driveway on a piece of property that city code would normally only allow one access point to a roadway.

The owner of the property, Sally Meadors, has plans to build a circular driveway to make it easier to access and leave her home, but needed the planning board to agree to a special exception to a city code — a variance — that regulates the number of access points to a property.

Meadors said the existing driveway into the 0.35 acre lot at 876 Chattahoochee Drive is difficult to use and is in need of repair.

"I often have to move into the other lane to make a right turn coming up the hill," Meadors said.

The city’s Unified Land Development Code restricts the number of driveways on a property with less than 200 feet of road frontage to one driveway.

Meadors’ property has 85 feet of road frontage, and under the code, would normally be restricted to one access point.

But after hearing from planning director Rusty Ligon, the planning board on Tuesday approved Meadors’ request to create two access points from the road with a circular driveway.

Planning department staff recommended that the board approve Meadors’ request, because the sloping topography of her property creates a physical hardship — though not an unnecessary one — for complying with the city’s driveway ordinance, according to a report compiled by the department.

Until this month, the planning board did not take recommendations from the city’s planning staff for variance requests. The city’s planning staff only made recommendations to the board for rezoning and annexation requests. But at the board’s May meeting, board co-chairman Joe Diaz suggested that the board receive some guidance from planning staff on variance requests, too.

Meadors’ request was the first variance request to go to the board with a recommendation from city staff.