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Oakwood land owners want homes to house office space
A few homes at the entrance to an older neighborhood at the busy intersection of Mundy Mill and McEver roads in South Hall are trying to get rezoning as an office park. Oakwood’s planning commission is set to consider the proposal on Sept. 21. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Rezoning proposal

Here are some details concerning the next airing of a proposal to annex into Oakwood and rezone five Holiday Heights subdivision lots to office/professional from residential:

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 21
What: Oakwood Planning Commission
Where: Oakwood City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle
Contact: 770-534-2365

OAKWOOD — At one time, Holiday Heights sat by itself, a subdivision at the crux of Mundy Mill and McEver roads in South Hall.

Then, as the county grew, so did the intersection, which features two of Hall County’s busiest roads.

Over time, businesses began to dot the area surrounding the entrance to Holiday Heights.

When commercial rezoning was allowed "so close to that subdivision, I feel like and my clients feel like (government) created a situation that really puts these properties at a disadvantage," said Prudential Realty agent Tina Porter, who represents the homeowners.

"It’s a situation where you’ve got a couple of houses — they’re large homes, but nobody wants to purchase a nice home ... that close to commercial."

Five property owners have petitioned Oakwood to annex their property — a total of about 7.1 acres — and rezone the lots from residential to office/professional.

The issue first came up at the Oakwood Planning Commission’s meeting in August. The board put off the matter until Sept. 21.

Patricia Moore, who lives on Old Flowery Branch Road, wants to buy one of the five lots and convert it to an office, said Larry Sparks, Oakwood’s planner.

"She approached us (about possible rezoning) and we felt like it was something to look at, in terms of if it did go office/professional, that it would be a transition area between the commercial on the highway and the neighborhood," Sparks said.

"There is no proposed development," he added. "The idea was that at least two of the houses would convert to an office, just using the existing buildings. There’s no sewer there, so you can’t do much in the way of development."

Porter said that if Moore followed through on her plans, "it wouldn’t change the house, the neighborhood wouldn’t change. It’s not office/industrial — it’s probably the lightest commercial zoning that you can get."

She added, "Most people might not know that those lots have a huge buffer from the rest of the subdivision. I mean they are deep lots."

Still, at least one Holiday Heights residents, Dian Herring, has concerns about the proposed rezoning — and she voiced them at a Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting last month.

Herring, a resident since 1977, said the area in question is at the end of her street.

One concern she has is that no one has shared any details about the proposal. Also, she is worried about traffic that an office or offices might generate.

In addition, "Who knows what that (rezoning) would start? The value of our land may decrease ... and we have a lot of years invested in our homes," Herring said.

The county commission voted to oppose the annexation, saying it is not consistent with the current residential zoning, and has sent a formal objection letter to Sparks.

Oakwood officials said in a statement issued after the commission’s action that they were disappointed by the vote.

"The Hall County commission did not contact anyone with the city of Oakwood for more information about this annexation request," read a statement from the city.

"As a result, the Hall County commission publicly criticized the proposal and voted in opposition without fully understanding the true facts behind this case."

Porter said it is true "the city didn’t try to solicit this in any way" and that, for various reasons, homeowners chose to pursue the rezoning through the city.

"The property owners have been dealt a situation and are trying to handle it in the best way they can," she said.

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