The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners this week approved a developer’s request to start over on its plans for a piece of property in Free Home that drew strong objections from neighbors.

The case coming before the board Tuesday night involved the proposed Freehome Innovation Park at 12184 Cumming Highway. The request sought rezoning from agricultural and rural residential to light industrial to allow constructing two office/warehouse buildings. The case, which was heard by the Cherokee County Planning Commission at both its August and October public hearings, received a recommendation of denial. Since then, County Zoning Manager Michael Chapman said the applicants had asked for a couple of continuances of the case as attempts were made to try and rework the plan for the property.

“At this point, they’re asking to be remanded back to the planning commission so they can further revise their site plan and their application and hopefully conduct another public hearing,” Chapman said.

Commissioner Steve West put forth a motion to allow the case to be remanded to the planning commission, which was seconded by Commissioner Benny Carter and approved in a unanimous vote.

Following that case, the board then took action on a request from ZP Group, LLLP, which was wanting to rezone 11.63 acres at 7595 Georgia Highway 92 from single-family residential and light industrial to general commercial and multi-family residential for a mixed-use development. During its public hearing in December, the planning commission put forth a recommendation to approve the rezoning, along with the requested variance to reduce the front building setback and allow an evergreen screening buffer between the commercial and residential portions of the property.

“This is an area that needs improvement, and I think this development provides that, so I would make a motion to approve the rezone with the concurrent variances,” Commissioner Corey Ragsdale said.

Ragsdale’s motion was seconded by Carter and approved in a 5-0 vote.

The board of commissioners also handled the following items:

The consent agenda, which included a budget amendment of $19,000 to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office ♦ and purchase of seven radar units using insurance recovery money, an amendment with Convergint Technologies in the amount of $18,620 to provide maintenance and support for electronic key/lock systems in county buildings, an agreement with Jericho Design Group for $25,300 for design services to convert the old Fire Station No. 9 into a community center and a master software user agreement with Zoll Data Systems for a RescueNet ePCR software subscription, was approved.

♦ The board approved naming Ragsdale to the position of vice chairman for 2021 meetings.

♦ In one of his first acts as commissioner, Richard Weatherby appointed Loriann White to the Cemetery Preservation Committee, Terry Meier to the Cherokee Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, Raymond Gunnin to the Fire Code Appeals Board, Larry Lusk to the Impact Fee Appeals Board, Chris Van Zant to the Cherokee County Planning Commission, Jason Daniel to the Wrecker Service Advisory Board and Robin Hunt to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

♦ During the public comment portion of the m♦ eeting, the board heard from one of the county’s employees who was concerned about the lack of use of face masks by her poll workers while voting and believed it is the responsibility of county employees to lead by example, wearing masks while in the official conduct of their duty. The board also heard from representatives of the Woodmont Golf and Country Club, who were concerned about issues with traffic, water flow and buffer screening related to a nearby development on Haley Farm Road.

♦ The renewal of a software agreement with Spatilaest, Inc. for the Cherokee County Tax Assessor’s Office for a term of two years in the total amount of $139,000 was approved.

♦ A grant agreement from the Center for Tech and Civic Life in the amount of $154,000 and a related budget amendment on behalf of the county elections office was approved.

♦ The board approved four grant applications for the 2021 Georgia County Internship Program in the amount of $2,400 each. The agencies involved in this include Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency, Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services, Senior Services and the Cherokee County Recycling Center/Keep Cherokee County Beautiful.

♦ The purchase of 25 mobile radios for the Cherokee Area Transportation System in the amount of $64,033.46 was approved.

♦ The service agreement with Rindt-McDuff Associates related to landfill compliance monitoring at the Blalock Road Landfill was renewed for an amount not to ex♦ ceed $151,627.

♦ A fifth amendment to the agreement with Life Line Billing Systems for EMS billing and collection services was approved, extending the agreement for an additional year.

♦ The board approved adding $51,857 in the Tax Assessor’s Personnel Services budget to provide a pay increase for employees of that office. This amount was found by reducing budgeted legal services and training line items by a combined $40,000, along with reducing the office’s general services budget by $11,857.

♦ Although the board held off on making an official announcement for the dates and times of the annual planning retreat, a general consensus was reached to hold the event on Jan. 28 and 29 at the Branchwater restaurant in Canton.

♦ A reimbursement of $119.10 was approved to be given to Weatherby for expenses related to his recently attending newly elected officials training in Athens.

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