The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a request to modify zoning conditions and allow for a variance on a parcel of land following a public hearing last week.

In 2004, nearly 19 acres of land on Mountain Road between Mountain Road Elementary School and the intersection with Georgia Highway 140 was rezoned from residential requiring lots of 80,000 square feet to residential requiring lots of 60,000 square feet. When this rezoning was approved, the property was intended to be part of an adjacent subdivision to the north with an access point on Highway 140. Although plans changed and the 19 acres on Mountain Road ended up not becoming part of the development, one of the conditions attached during the rezoning, that there would be no access on Mountain Road, remained in place.

In order to allow for development on the land, Loren Construction Co. submitted a request to the county to remove the condition restricting access on Mountain Road, as well as to reduce the side building setback from 40 feet to 20 feet. According to plans the developer had created, the parcel would be divided into 11 lots for residential development. Due to surrounding developments, the developer’s representative, Parks Huff from the Marietta law firm of Sams, Larkin & Huff, pointed out there were no other public roads that could be accessed from the property, which would require removing the condition restricting access on Mountain Road. The main point Huff stressed was regarding the setbacks, as the only real options for the lots would be to either reduce their side setbacks or reconfigure them in irregular shapes to meet the setback requirements.

“The goal here is to limit grading, push the homes toward the front, not violating the front setback, and that will pull them away from the surrounding neighbors,” Huff said. “I think that’s what is the most important aspect of the variance request.”

Two nearby residents addressed the board during the public hearing. Bonny Keheley said she was concerned about the road leading into the development from Mountain Road and felt it should be moved south from its proposed location closer to the intersection with Mountain Lane.

“There is a lot of limited sight distance on Mountain Road, and in particular where this is proposed is on a hill,” Keheley said.

Looking at the topography of the property, Stan Jones was concerned about a ravine that would cut across several of the proposed lots, and thus could lead to a greater amount of clear-cutting trees on the site for additional grading to take place for houses to be built on those lots.

Returning to the podium to respond to these comments, Huff and Sean Randall with Loren Construction said the development was not maxing out on the density it could go for under its current zoning classification, while the developers do not want to clear-cut the site.

Commissioners spent several minutes discussing the case, beginning with Commission Chairman Harry Johnston saying he felt the county had to allow access from Mountain Road. Commissioner Ray Gunnin said it sounded like the developers were trying to avoid a high-impact situation and that he could live with lots of that size, but he also understood the concerns brought forth by the neighbors. The board approved modifying the zoning conditions and allowing the variance in a unanimous vote.

In other business, commissioners:

♦ Approved the consent agenda, which included the transfer of two surplus firetrucks to Lumpkin County.

♦ Approved a grant application for CATS in the amount of up to $702,485 with the Georgia Department of Human Services was approved.

♦ The board approved the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report regarding the county’s Community Development Block Grant program to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

♦ The purchase of a 2020 Ford Explorer for Recreation and Parks from the low bidder, Alan Vigil Ford, in the amount of $30,363 was approved.

♦ A standard contract with Cummins Crushing & Recycling, Inc. to provide concrete and asphalt crushing services for the county’s public works department was approved. Cummins Crushing & Recycling was the lowest bidder for the contract, coming in at $48,000.

The next meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7.

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