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Residents say no to proposed retail center in South Hall
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A developer’s rezoning request for a nearly 10-acre shopping center proposed on Old Winder Highway in South Hall ignited tensions between Hall County residents and developers at a Hall County Planning Commission meeting Monday evening.

The applicant, Dunhill Developers LLC, asked the Hall County Planning Commission to consider rezoning 9.9 acres of property adjacent to Mulberry River at the intersection of Old Winder Highway and Howington Road from agriculture and residential to highway business. The proposed shopping center would contain retail establishments, office space and a restaurant.

The county planning commission unanimously recommended the project for final approval to the Hall County Board of Commissioners despite opposition voiced from five Hall County residents.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will consider the rezoning request at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Georgia Mountains Center.

Patricia Ellis lives on Park Bend Avenue on property adjacent to the Mulberry River, which separates her lot from the site of the proposed shopping. Both her property and site of the proposed shopping center are located near an established floodplain.

"We all paid quite a considerable amount extra to have these lots against a floodplain where we were told no one would ever build," Ellis said. "Now I will literally have a restaurant in my backyard where I used to sit and watch fire flies. Now I’m going to see a restaurant with a parking lot with cars coming and going."

Ellis and several of her neighbors raised concerns at the Monday meeting about the shopping center and it’s affect on traffic in the area. Many spoke at the meeting in opposition of the anticipated odor a nearby restaurant could emit.

"The restaurant, I think, is the biggest thing for all of us. I love to go out and eat, but I don’t want a restaurant in my backyard," Ellis said.

The developer, Amyn Meghani, and his engineer, Bill Hamilton of James, Westbrook and Associates, both said they were willing to work with nearby residents to make the project one they could tolerate.

Hamilton said the developer will undertake environmental and traffic studies in the area before construction begins. He added that the shopping center and offices will feed off the Hall County sewer trunkline being built near Mulberry River.

Hamilton said construction on the shopping center is not likely to begin for another two years if the project is approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 28.

Hall County Planning Commission also recommended Hall County commissioners approve a plastics recycling center on Candler Road and a veterinary hospital on Jay Mountain Road. The planning commission also recommended the board of commissioners approve a rezoning request for 266 acres of property near Union Church Road that would allow the Eagle Ranch children’s community to build four more homes for girls and staff.

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