Despite dozens of residents organizing together in opposition, a storage facility on Browns Bridge Road was approved in a split vote.
Developer Lanier Luxe Self Storage of Murrayville applied to build a seven-building facility on nearly 10 acres at 4152 Browns Bridge Road near Cherokee Trail and Greyfield Bluff Drive, where residential homes sit adjacent to the development. The one- and two-story buildings would vary in size from about 16,500 square feet to 30,000 square feet, and the site would include outdoor storage for boats and RVs. The application would rezone the land from residential and agricultural residential use to highway business.
Developer Kent Henderson spoke for the project at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, Sept. 23, telling commissioners it would be one of the least intense commercial uses possible for the location in terms of traffic and utilities. The Hall County Planning Commission had previously required the development to have access only from Browns Bridge Road rather than having an entrance on Cherokee Trail, which Henderson said he was fine with after discussing the change with neighboring residents.
“This is Browns Bridge Road, one of our major thoroughfares that’s coming into Hall County, and this is where our commercial development has to grow,” Henderson said.
Eric Quiros, who lives on Greyfield Bluff Drive, spoke in opposition to the development along with three other nearby residents, most of whom wore blue shirts with bold white font saying, “Cumberland-Cherokee Coalition,” to show a unified position between two neighborhoods impacted by the project.
Quiros said he was concerned about erosion issues stemming from the development, light pollution and his property value being harmed.
“Im sitting right there,” he said, pointing on a map to his backyard overlooking the proposed development. “I’m going to see the whole thing in its full glory every night.”
Other residents said they had similar issues and wanted to keep the planning commission’s conditions in place if the board approved the project. These included removing access onto Cherokee Trail, adding fencing standards, limiting operating hours and requiring vegetated buffers.
District 2 Commissioner Billy Powell moved to approve the application, keeping previous conditions and requiring the developer to reduce one of the storage buildings nearest to residential homes by 50% in size. The application was approved in a rare 3-2 vote with Chairman Richard Higgins and District 3 Commissioner Shelly Echols dissenting.
Higgins and Echols said after the meeting they wouldn’t want to look at the facility from their backyards, either.
“If I had a house there, I would not be in favor of it there,” Higgins said. “It’s probably going to be a good development, but that many houses that close — I didn’t feel like it was appropriate.”