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Plan for dozen cottages on hold in South Hall over design concerns
Hall County Government Center

A project to build a dozen mid-price rental homes on 10 acres near Braselton is back at the drawing board after concerns from a nearby neighborhood.

Kim and Patrick Kernstine are aiming to build 10 to 13 long-term rental homes across from Road Atlanta on Winder Highway in South Hall, but the project hit the skids before the Hall County Board of Commissioners this month amid questions about the design of the small subdivision and how it would affect homeowners on two nearby roads, Trellis Way and Primrose Drive in the Ivy Ridge subdivision.

The Kernstines, through their business KPL Investments in Alpharetta, hope to offer single-family rental cottages with leases of 9 months or more and monthly rents of about $1,400. The subdivision, named The Reserve at White Oak, would sit on 10 acres of an undeveloped 40-acre lot just north of Road Atlanta and the Lanier Raceplex.

“There’s a lot of growth coming to that area with the different warehouses and things that are being built and are expanding,” Kim Kernstine told commissioners at their Dec. 12 voting meeting. “We’re just looking to provide affordable housing to the people in that area, so we’re looking to keep our square footage around 1,600 square feet and a minimum lot size of 0.59 (acres).”

The couple hoped to rezone the 10 acres from agricultural-residential-IV to planned residential development, which would allow the subdivision to start construction in the first quarter of 2018.

Residents of nearby areas were nervous about some details of the project, but the proposal had been changed a few times even before it hit the commission meeting.

KPL Investments proposed a gravel road from Winder Highway into the subdivision that had no sidewalks and no overall stormwater management plan. When the Hall County Planning Commission voted on the project in November, Chairman Don Smallwood said the subdivision met the “bare minimum” requirements of the county.

But the gravel road was nixed in favor of pavement with curb and gutter after Hall County engineers worried about dust, road maintenance and erosion problems in meetings with the developers. A gravel road was opposed by Ivy Ridge residents.

There was some worry among neighbors in Ivy Ridge during the Dec. 12 meeting that the homes would be opened to month-to-month renters, but Kim Kernstine said they only intended to offer long-term rentals of more than 9 months.

The confusion was caused by language added by Hall County planners. In county code, a “long-term rental” is any lease lasting more than 30 days.

Meanwhile, residents were also concerned that the road into the subdivision ran within a few feet of the backyard lots of the homes on Trellis Way.

“I’m all about the county profiting and them profiting and everybody enjoying theirself, but they don’t have to pick up the trash I have to pick up, they don’t have to deal with the traffic I have to deal with,” said John Chancey, who lives at the corner of Trellis Way and Benefield Road near the proposed subdivision.

The Kernstines said they would leave a buffer and talked about installing a fence, but because of the topography in the area and a stream that crosses the property they couldn’t move the road away from the property line.

“I would like to see that with a 40-foot buffer in between with a fence because of the traffic and it being someone else’s backyard,” said Hall County Commissioner Kathy Cooper, who said it was “bad design.”

Commissioner Jeff Stowe defended the project, saying they weren’t asking for any variances to county code.

“It’s not uncommon for roads to go that close to a property (line),” Stowe said.

The Kernstines and their engineer were confident that it would be difficult to relocate the road, and the commission settled with tabling the issue at the Dec. 12 meeting.

Commissioners unanimously voted to table the rezoning proposal until the second meeting in January, which gives KPL Investments, county staff and Cooper, who asked to sit in on the meetings, time to tweak the design before its final vote.

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