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Proposal seeks rezoning change in Oakwood from commercial to residential
Property near planned exit 17 interchange
0721OAKWOOD
Plans appear to be moving forward on a new subdivision off Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 — near a planned new interchange at Interstate 985 — but possibly without 24 acres long zoned for commercial use. Brand Banking of Duluth is seeking rezoning of the 24 acres from highway business to multiple family residential district. The 24 acres is part of a proposed 123-acre development, with the remaining acres zoned residential.

Plans appear to be moving forward on a new subdivision off Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 — near a planned new interchange at Interstate 985 — but possibly without 24 acres long zoned for commercial use.

“It appears the primary commercial market in the city of Oakwood is (farther north) at Exit 17 and along (Ga.) 53,” according to a document filed by the owner, The Brand Banking Co.

“The (Martin Road/Falcon Parkway) property is off the beaten path of where the commercial market is located and where it wants to be.”

Brand Banking of Duluth is seeking rezoning of the 24 acres from highway business to multiple family residential district. The 24 acres is part of a proposed 123-acre development, with the remaining acres zoned residential.

Removing the commercial designation would provide “consistent (residential) zoning on (the) entire property,” the document states.

On Monday, the Oakwood Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning. The matter now goes before Oakwood City Council for a public hearing on Aug. 14.

The council voted in March 2014 to approve rezonings allowing both commercial and residential uses on the property. Twenty of the commercial acres would be along Martin Road at Ga. 13.

The overall development extends north to Pauline Drive.

“The property has been marketed for sale as a commercial site since that time, but as of the date of this rezoning application, there has not been interest from any commercial developer,” Brand Banking says.

“Since the previous owner was not able to either sell or develop as a commercial site, The Brand Banking Company had to take the property back.”

The 20-acre site “is large enough to support a commercial power shopping center, a land use that is slowing disappearing from the real estate world with few very select locations,” the bank says.

Century Homes now has the property under contract and is proposing to build 250-plus homes.

The company has “said they expect a 3- to 4-year build-out and will have an amenities package,” City Manager Stan Brown said earlier this week.

The original developer, 985 North Real Estate Partners, was proposing a build-out of 302 homes in up to eight years.

Brand Banking says the “proposed residential use will have different impacts than commercial.”

“A commercial use would generate heavier traffic patterns, significant road and traffic signalization changes, generate more noise and light and traffic congestion,” the bank says.

“Although a residential use would have more impact on schools and parks, the impact of the two uses are about equal when compared.”

Traffic is a key concern of area residents, who had protested a planned I-985 interchange that would connect Martin Road east of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway west of the interstate.

As it appeared the Exit 14 project could go out for construction bids later this year, residents focused more on impacts of the interchange on Martin Road, a mostly residential road between Ga. 13 and Winder Highway/Ga. 53.

Residents and officials eventually settled on an alternative to the widening that would include a possible roundabout on Martin at JM Turk Road and stop signs along Martin.

Also, along Martin, “traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps and tables, may be applied where necessary,” according to a map of the project.

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