Against huge opposition from residents, a $30 million project calling for two industrial buildings with a combined 336,960 square feet near I-985 and Exit 12 was given final approval.
The development will take place on 38 acres off Thurmon Tanner Parkway and Phil Niekro Boulevard.
The project has faced massive opposition from residents, who have said they’re concerned about truck traffic and the general look of a warehouse development at one of the city’s main entryways.
Residents throughout the council meeting room held up signs reading "Deny" as the council prepared to vote.
Several people interrupted Councilman Joe Anglin when he tried to explain his vote.
"Just vote!" a couple of people said from the audience. Tense exchanges continued, with one resident being escorted from the meeting by a Flowery Branch police officer.
The final vote was 3-1, with one councilwoman, Leslie Jarchow, opposed.
Both Anglin and Councilwoman Amy Farah talked about personal property rights in their support for the project.
“If we denied this project, (this property) is going to continue to be a topic of conversation,” Farah said. “It’s going to come back and somebody is going to want to do X, Y or Z on it. There would be tons of ‘Deny’ signs out there if apartments came.”
“This happens to be one of the strongest Republican holds in Georgia,” Anglin said, “and one of the main tenets of the Republican Party is individual property rights. These people have … tried to sell it as highway business for 20-plus years. They’re now asking for (light industrial), which will help the tax base of this city,”
Hines Acquisitions, which sought to rezone the property from highway business to light industrial, has defended its request, saying the lack of development on the long-vacant property suggests “there is not a reasonable economic use as currently zoned.”