A Tuesday night vote cleared the way for development of what had been a hotly contested 246,000-square-foot shopping center on Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway.
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board voted unanimously to give America’s Home Place Inc. approval to build inside the protection buffer of a stream on the southeastern side of the site.
“You can continue with the development of your property,” the board chairman, Dean Dadisman, told Jim Walters, attorney for America’s Home Place.
In March, Gainesville City Council voted over the stout objections of people living in an adjacent subdivision, Lakeshore Heights, to approve a rezoning that allowed for the shopping center’s development.
America’s Home Place returned to the city for a variance request, seeking to encroach on what is a 75-foot buffer area around 290 feet of a stream on the 25-acre site.
“The applicant is basing the hardship (request) on the property’s topography and the existing drainage of the property,” according to a city document.
Further, the move would “allow for better water quality by diverting stormwater into detention ponds.”
“We’ve gone over what the plans are to develop this property and the benefits to the city of Gainesville, and this is the last item that needs to be done in order to start construction,” Walters told the board.
America’s Home Place has already gotten approval in the matter from the state Environmental Protection Division and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Michael Proulx, president of the Lakeshore Heights Homeowners Association, spoke in opposition to the company’s request.
He said he was concerned particularly about the impact of a planned detention pond on the stream.
“If (water) is spilling into that stream (from the pond), I think we have a potential environmental issue,” Proulx said.
Walters assured the board that the “detention pond won’t overflow.”
Board member John Snyder said, in seeking to approve the request, that “I’m satisfied that the applicant has done the due diligence” in the matter.
“My (college) major had nothing to do with engineering or hydrology, so I have to defer to folks who are the experts,” board member Doyle Johnson said in also giving his support.
“And I believe that, having dealt with the EPD before, they’re not pushovers.”
He added that he didn’t think the city staff’s “first intent (in recommending the request’s OK) is not the economic outlook (of the city) but the good of all involved.”