In the tussle between Seasons on Lanier residents and the bankrupt neighborhood’s potential new developer, Easlan Capital of Atlanta Inc. has been granted a timeout.
On Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council was scheduled to vote on whether Easlan could rezone 10 acres of the planned unit development and build a RaceTrac gas station.
Easlan Capital is acquiring the Seasons property in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and wants to tweak the original vision for the planned unit development, which didn’t allow auto-related businesses.
Seasons residents did not take kindly to the request. When they bought houses in the 55 and older subdivision, they expected a pedestrian-friendly community with no auto-related businesses. A gas station was not what they had bargained for, said John Snyder, president of the Seasons homeowner association.
The residents refused to meet with the Atlanta developers about the possible changes to their community, and when the request came before the city’s planning and appeals board in March, more than 60 Seasons residents attended to show their opposition. The planning and appeals board voted in the residents’ favor.
But when the rezoning bid came before the council Tuesday evening, Gainesville attorney Wes Robinson, who represents Easlan, asked the council to postpone the rezoning decision until its May 6 meeting.
Robinson said the postponement would give the bankruptcy trustee time to meet and negotiate with the residents of Seasons.
"We are willing to talk about it," Snyder told the council.
But Snyder said the residents are not backing down about the gas station. The residents simply do not want it there, he said.
"We are adamantly opposed to having a RaceTrac gas station on that corner; we’re not opposed to talking about it some more," Snyder said. "We’re not going to change our mind about the RaceTrac."
After the meeting, Robinson said Easlan Capital would no longer be interested in purchasing Seasons on Lanier if the council does not approve the developer’s rezoning request. Easlan Capital is the only developer that has an interest in acquiring the Seasons property in bankruptcy court, Robinson said.
"If the property’s not rezoned, obviously the contract would fall through," Robinson said. "The (bankruptcy) trustee does have an interest in seeing the property does get rezoned."
Robinson said Easlan Capital fully intends to build a gas station on the property, and said the RaceTrac would be an upscale gas station with four brick walls.
"There’s a market for it right there, and we hope that’s what’s going to go there," Robinson said.
Snyder said the fact that Gainesville Church of God, which is adjacent to the property in question, is for sale may affect negotiations with the developers. Snyder said if Easlan Capital purchased that property, then the company could build high-traffic, upscale retail facilities without having to build a gas station.
Robinson said he does not know whether Easlan Capital will purchase the property, and Tuesday’s meeting was the first he had heard of the sale of the property.
Seasons residents have agreed to meet with the bankruptcy trustee and Easlan Capital this month, and the issue will again come before the City Council on May 6.
In other Gainesville City Council business:
- The City Council voted unanimously to award the design of the city’s new public safety building to Heery International for $743,600. The city has not finished buying the needed property, but City Manager Bryan Shuler said he hopes the land acquisition, which involves more than one owner, will be done in the next month. Shuler said the city is "paralleling" design work with the land purchase to speed up the move of the public safety building.
- Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper awarded Sgt. Jeff Elrod the department’s Meritorious Service Award for negotiating with a man who had threatened to kill himself at a local hotel. The man, who had barricaded himself in his room, came out after talking with Elrod for more than an hour. The department’s Meritorious Service Award is given to officers who have performed a life-saving act. This was Elrod’s third Meritorious Service Award.