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Owner seeks relief on office lots
Says developing Thompson Bridge property infeasible without changes to setback requirements
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Retail office spaces of 3,200 and 4,000 square feet, respectively, are proposed at the former site of Syfan Landscape Center on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. - photo by Asha Gill

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board earlier this week gave its nod to a proposed retail development that will include two buildings on the site of the former Syfan Landscape Center on Thompson Bridge Road.

The City Council will vote on whether to grant the applicant, Paige Pethel, relief on required building setbacks from the road when it meets in April.

The property is sandwiched between Little Ladybug and Stan’s Biscuits and Deli, across from the Publix-anchored shopping center.

An older metal building, shed and greenhouse structure would have to be removed for new development to occur.   

Pethel told planning board members that without approval to vary the front yard setback requirements from 40 feet to zero feet along Thompson Bridge Road and Green Street Circle, it would likely be economically infeasible to develop the property for best use.

The property is zoned for “neighborhood business” and Pethel is looking to develop two retail office spaces of 3,200 and 4,000 square feet, respectively.

City ordinance requires that such a hardship claim “must be based on the size or shape of the lot, its topography, or other physical characteristics inherent in the lot itself and not on the desired aesthetics,” according to a planning staff report.

Ordinances also state that a “variance shall not be granted as a convenience to the applicant or as a way to gain any advantage or interest over similarly zoned properties.”

Pethel, in her application, is basing the hardship on the small size and shape of the lot, as well as, having two road frontages.   

If approved by City Council, any improvements to the driveway access must be coordinated with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and further information is needed to determine whether a traffic impact study will be required.