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Shopping center gets approval by Oakwood council
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Oakwood Assistant City Manager Patti Doss-Luna talks about an effort to see if Hall County residents living next to the city would consider annexation.

Oakwood City Council approved a rezoning and annexation of property for a shopping center off Winder Highway late Monday night.

The council rezoned two lots on Chestnut Drive to a highway business classification from a Hall County residential one, allowing for the development of a 12,000-square-foot shopping center.

It also gave its first OK to annexation of the lots. The council will consider a final reading at a later date.

The rezoning was approved with the condition that a 30-foot vegetative buffer be maintained between the center and Chestnut Drive, which serves as the main road into the 50-home Chestnut Hills subdivision.

Also, the council required no commercial driveway access on Chestnut Drive.

The two lots, adding up to 1.1 acres, along with a third one already in the city, would serve as the site for the center.

Several subdivision residents showed up Monday night to oppose the shopping center.

"Would you like that to be your next-door neighbor?" resident Patti Davis asked the council. "This (subdivision) is our home. Right now, it’s a very peaceful place. I believe (the development) is going to have a severe negative impact on this subdivision."

Her husband, Jimmy Davis, said he didn’t see the need for another shopping center so close to the Kroger-anchored shopping center on Winder Highway, just south of Chestnut Drive and at Sloan Mill Road.

"There is ample space across the street," he said.

Also on Monday night, the council unanimously gave its first approval to an "in-fill annexation project" that involved dozens of properties scattered around the old part of the city, on streets such as Oakwood Road, Nellie Drive and Mundy Mill Drive.

"If you lived down here and you drive by them, you would think that all of that property is inside the city of Oakwood, but actually it is not," said assistant city manager Patti Doss-Luna in a presentation before the council’s vote.

She described the project as a "friendly" attempt to see if Hall County residents living next door to city property would like to take advantage of city services, such as trash pickup and rapid police response.

"You already know us," Doss-Luna said. "You know who the city is, but when you drive by, you don’t really know what our services are."

In other business, the council also gave its first OK to an ordinance that governs speed zones in the city.

The city has a law on the books already. The new law would lower the speed limit on Railroad Street between Main Street and the city limits to 30 mph from 35 and on Frontage Road between Ga. 13 and Ga. 53 to 40 mph from 45.

Also, the city would add H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway to the list. The 1-mile road runs between McEver Road and Thurmon Tanner Parkway and has a 45-mph speed limit.