The Cherokee County Planning Commission has recommended approval to rezone land in the Sutallee community for a proposed gas station to have more direct access to Highway 20, despite opposition from nearby residents.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners will vote whether to give final approval for the rezoning at an upcoming meeting.
Walter Lewis, who owns the property, is requesting 2.39 acres of land at 187 White Road, located near the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 108, be rezoned from agricultural to general commercial. A piece of land directly to the north of Lewis’s property was rezoned several years ago for a gas station. The gas station is planned to have driveways on White Road and Highway 108, and Lewis is seeking the rezoning to add a driveway from Highway 20, according to a representative.
Planning commissioners unanimously voted to recommend the rezoning with two conditions: that the developer limit the Highway 20 access point to the location shown on submitted plans, and increase a buffer on the west side of the property to 50 feet.
Lewis’ attorney, Michael Bray, told the planning commission he believed the property would be better suited to commercial use, as its triangular shape and location might prevent it from having any more feasible use in the agricultural zoning category. Bray also said there was a 35-foot buffer along the western edge of the property that would remain undisturbed and believed this rezoning would not have a negative effect on the area.
During the public hearing, several area residents voiced concerns about the rezoning, including safety regarding traffic turning out onto Highway 20 from the gas station, light pollution coming from the gas station and the traffic the station might generate on White Road.
“There’s going to be 18-wheelers coming in and out of there, and some of them are going to want to drive down White Road,” Susan Samuels said. “They’re going to be driving within feet of my daughter riding her bike or riding her horse, and that’s not fair.”
Samuels said she believed if this property was not rezoned, the gas station would not develop on the neighboring property.
Commission Chair Bob Whitaker said the county’s comprehensive plan designated the area as neighborhood village, which anticipates some commercial development in the area. Planning Commissioner Rick Whiteside agreed with Bray that the property’s shape might keep it from being well-suited for either agricultural or residential uses, but supported increasing the property’s western buffer.