A North Hall County development that includes a large apartment complex may be back on track after a lawsuit blocking construction was recently dismissed.
The project is an 83-acre commercial and residential project near the intersection of Price and Thompson Bridge roads that was approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners in January, but left in limbo by a lawsuit filed in March by adjacent property owners Jeffrey and Hart Payne.
Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin dismissed the case last week after ruling the Paynes didn’t file suit within the 30-day period allowed by law. They argued that the 30-day period started on Feb. 14, when the commission approved the minutes of the Jan. 24 meeting.
However, Gosselin sided with defendants Hall County and Riverbrook Village Development Partners LLC. She ruled the 30-day period started on Jan. 25, the day Commission Clerk Melissa McCain sent a letter to developer Robbie Robison that the zoning request by the company had been approved.
“So we’re pleased with the result,” Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said.
The Paynes argued in their original court filing that the approved rezoning was a major departure from what had been established for the property in 2006, and that it violated the county’s comprehensive plan and future land use plan. The lawsuit also alleged the rezoning application was not complete and the decision didn’t follow state guidelines.
In 2006, the commission approved the property for 45 town homes, which had neighborhood support. The developers last year applied to build an apartment complex instead with 288 units, which was later reduced to 220, or 10 units an acre for the residential portion of the project.
Commissioners approved the rezoning request from Robison and Steve McKibbon of Riverbrook Village Partners. The vote was 3-1, with Commissioner Billy Powell recusing himself and Commissioner Scott Gibbs voting against.
Messages left with the attorneys involved, the Paynes and the developers were not returned.
The rezoning request and revised plan was submitted on Aug. 7, 2012, leaving many neighbors and residents upset about the changes. The developers asked the land be rezoned from a planned residential development to planned commercial development. McKibbon and Robison plan to create a mixed-use area with retail shopping, restaurants and a gated apartment community.
Residents complained the apartment complex would result in too many people living in the residential area, which would violate the county’s comprehensive plan. They also voiced concerns about crime, traffic and a decline in neighboring property values.