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Oakwood planners OK townhouse complex
City council has final say on proposal
Plans for up to 105 townhouses are proposed across from Johnson High School in Oakwood on a site considered for condominiums before a bad economy several years ago killed the project.

The Oakwood Planning Commission gave its blessing Monday night to a rezoning proposal that allows for 105 townhouses across from Johnson High School.

But not until several concerns were aired, including traffic on busy Poplar Springs Road, especially at the school.

“With the kids coming out and, on the other side, adults trying to get out in the morning for work, it’s setting up a wreck,” Commissioner Melissa Puckett said.

“The best part of (traffic around) a school, though, is you have about a two-hour gap between your peak times,” said Brian Rochester, executive vice president of Rochester & Associates, a Gainesville land development firm seeking the complex’s approval.

Also, City Manager Stan Brown noted, Johnson High has another major traffic access spot off Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway.

Another worry among planning board members was how many units at the complex, which has been dubbed Hawthorne Village, potentially could be converted to rentals.

The commission ended up adding a condition that requires a homeowners association at the complex, which would limit the number of rentals.

Overall, the board is recommending to Oakwood City Council, which has final say on the matter, that zoning be changed from residential to planned residential development to allow for the development on nearly 13 acres.

The site, which is also near Redwine United Methodist Church and less than a half-mile east of Ga. 13, originally was zoned to allow for 82 condominiums.

Development started in 2006, but, “due at least in part to the real estate downturn, no homes were constructed,” Rochester said in his application to the city.

Today, trees and other vegetation cover the otherwise vacant property. Beyond a locked gate at the entrance are hints of previous work, including roads and street lights.

“Without this change in zoning, the property will most likely remain partially developed and continue to be an eyesore for the city,” Rochester’s application states.

“As currently zoned, condominium development is the only option and the market is not good for condominiums at this time, and therefore the property value will be diminished if the current zoning remains,” Rochester said.

Completion of Hawthorne Village is expected in 2018.

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