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Planning board to review office space proposal for Thompson Bridge

Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board meeting
What: Review of proposed office space development on Thompson Bridge Road
When: 5:30 p.m. April 14
Where: Municipal courtroom in the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway

The Thompson Bridge Road corridor shifts more and more in the direction of commercial enterprise with each passing year, the residential character evolving into a blend of homes, restaurants and retail stores.

Now comes a proposed professional office development directly across from the new Wal-Mart grocery store.

Plans to develop a 7,700-square-foot building with parking on a .67 acre property will go before the city’s planning and appeals board April 14.

The proposed development includes one access drive from Thompson Bridge, with parking in the front and rear.

The city’s planning staff has recommended a few conditions be met before the development can proceed, including substantial buffers to protect nearby residential homes.

The property in question, located at 1510 Thompson Bridge Road, is currently vacant, with a small driveway and some vegetation.

The property was rezoned from residential to neighborhood business in 1998, and a demolition permit was issued to remove a home on the property in 2012.

The planning and appeals board is being asked to reduce buffer requirements.

The application, submitted by Chris Patton of Patton Land Surveying in Gainesville, asks city officials to shrink the rear vegetative buffer mandate to 15 feet from 30 feet.

According to staff reports, “In certain cases, the code allows for buffers to be reduced in half when an 8-foot tall opaque structural buffer and vegetation is provided. It does not appear that this is conducive given the fact that the comprehensive plan expects the adjacent property located to the east to remain single-family.”

Planning staff recommends that a minimum 25-foot buffer be required to ensure privacy for adjacent family residences.

Staff is also recommending that an eight-foot vinyl fence be constructed on the property’s northern boundary.

A final condition recommended by staff restricts the land’s use, which means a convenience store, coin laundry or tattoo parlor cannot be developed at the site.

Owner and developer Richard Toth told The Times last month that there is no timeline for construction and that he does not yet have a specific tenant or client lined up to occupy the office space.

But Toth believes the economy is turning around and that now is the right time to move forward with the development.

“It’s starting to grow,” he added.

While an office development is already an approved use for the land, Toth may face another hurdle along the way.

According to staff reports, “Based on the current concept plan, it appears the applicant may be required to file for a variance in the future to vary the frontage landscape strip, sidewalk, access aisle width and impervious surface coverage requirements.”

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