Corey Ragsdale

Corey Ragsdale

CANTON – Rezoning and special use permit requests in Southwest Cherokee will be halted for the next 90 days after a unanimous decision from the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

According to Commission Chairman Harry Johnston, the 90-day moratorium, proposed by Commissioner Corey Ragsdale, will give county planning staff time to develop a “small area plan,” which will further explore how the needs of developers and residents can be better balanced. The small area plan’s study area stretches generally south from Interstate 75 and Woodstock Road, east to Wade Green Road, north to Kellogg Creek Road and west slightly past Ga. Highway 92, county documents show.

Johnston said the moratorium will allow county planning staff “to prepare what I would call a master plan, they call a small area plan, the intent of which would be to allow continuation of economic development that’s going on in that area, while finding a way to also reasonably protect the residential, and if possible attract some retail to that area that’s generally agreed to be needed.”

According to planning staff, the small area plan will likely take until at least March to complete.

Ragsdale told the Tribune on Wednesday that he proposed the moratorium to more specifically outline what kinds of projects are needed in the district and to prevent any conflict with the plan being developed. Ragsdale said he, former Commissioner Scott Gordon and planning staff decided they would work for months to develop a plan for the area, and it didn’t make sense to allow more development if they didn’t know what the small area plan would show yet.

“The intent that I had for this area was to better define what we’re going to be doing here, in regards to development – what types of development, where they’re located relative to other existing properties, residential in particular,” he said. “We have the comprehensive plan, but we needed a more focused plan for this area… My thought was, if we’re going to do this study for three or four months, and all the while, we’ve got more things being built, it really doesn’t make sense.”

Ragsdale said the district, just like others, needs a mix of uses to promote healthy growth, but currently the county has seen a trend along highway corridors for mostly industrial growth.

The application stay follows a pair of applications in the past year for a warehouse development along Highway 92, which garnered particularly strong opposition from home owners adjacent the proposal. The warehouse would rezone about 42 acres from residential uses to light industrial and office.

That warehouse plan falls across the street from the Cherokee 75 Corporate Corridor, where the Cherokee County Development Authority, also known as the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, has focused in recent years on the introduction of corporate development. Johnston noted that the moratorium will likely make COED’s goals more difficult for the near future, but said the goal is to move forward with any development in Southwest Cherokee in “a more community-accepting way.”

The Cherokee County Planning Commission on Jan. 8 recommended denial of the warehouse project, submitted by developer Taylor & Mathis, but the plan will still be heard by the board of commissioners next month.

Ragsdale said Wednesday the decision to activate a moratorium was not solely a response to the warehouse plans but instead a pause to look into the future growth of the district as a whole.

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meet at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center at The Bluffs, 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton. Agendas, minutes and videos of past meetings can be found at legacy.cherokeega.com/apps/transparency/novusSearch.cfm.

Thomas is a government, business, crime and features reporter for the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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