The Cherokee County Planning Commission was busy Tuesday night, holding public hearings on five rezoning cases and making recommendations for the board of commissioners.

After holding a public hearing on the case in December and having the matter tabled again in January, the planning commission opened the night by returning to a request to rezone 35 acres on Elwin Ragsdale Way from moderately dense residential to relatively high density residential. During Tuesday night’s meeting, the planning commission was presented with a new plan that the applicant, the Pacific Group, had developed. Under the new plan, the developers would instead seek a lower density residential classification and a conservation design, bumping the number of lots down from 69 to 55. Taking a look at the updated site plan, the commission members appeared to be more in favor of the changed version, including Tom Ware, who said he appreciated that the developers were able to get a price concession that allowed them to do the redesign and that he could support the new site plan. There were a few points the planning commission sought clarity on, including the wording involving a stream on the property border and the impervious buffer surrounding it. The planning commission made a recommendation of approval with the changes proposed to the application, while changing one condition so that the developers would have to work with the county to improve the roadway and bring it up to county standards.

The second case came from David Menna, who was requesting to have 2.31 acres on Vaughn Road rezoned from rural residential to a more moderately dense residential category so the land could be split in two for development. Menna said he wanted to build a pair of houses on the property and was thus seeking the zoning change. The only question any of the commission members had was seeking clarity on whether or not the buildings that were seen on site in satellite imagery were still there, with Menna saying they had been removed. A subsequent motion to recommend approval of the rezoning passed.

The last case involving land for potential residential development was a parcel of property along Wrights Mill Road the applicant, George Baker, was asking to be rezoned from agricultural to rural residential. Baker explained to the planning commission that when Wrights Mill Road was developed, it had cut off one and a half acres from the rest of his land. He was thus wanting this smaller parcel to be rezoned so it would conform to county zoning law and could be developed upon. After hearing Baker’s remarks, the planning commission approved a motion to recommend approving the rezoning.

Changing gears to business-oriented cases, the planning commission conducted its fourth public hearing of the evening on a request to rezone seven and a half acres at 4925 Hickory Flat Highway from rural residential to light industrial for the development of a business office, shop and warehouse at the site. When reviewing the application, Zoning Manager Michael Chapman said the property is in a community village node of development, which allows for a variety of uses, including light industrial. However, it was also noted that the parcel is almost entirely surrounded by residential zoning, with the exception of general commercial just west of the property, and that the nearest land zoned light industrial is approximately three miles away. Commission member Rick Whiteside asked the applicant what kind of business this was, receiving the response that it was a cleanup and restoration company, similar to businesses like Servpro. Lisa Tressler said she was a little concerned about going from rural residential to light industrial, while Rick Whiteside voiced a similar concern, saying he felt this could be a little out of place. However, it was also argued during the discussion that, compared to other uses allowed in areas zoned light industrial, this application felt relatively innocuous. Commission Chair Bob Whitaker said an email the commission received said the parking would be gravel, while the applicant said a building currently on the site would be removed and a new one built to give his company space to park its vans indoors. After the discussion, commission member Tom Hill made a motion to recommend approving the rezoning, but that it would be restricted to this specific use, which was seconded by Ware. Just before taking a vote on the motion, however, Tressler asked if they would have any objection to adding no outside storage or overnight parking as a condition. Neither opposed the addition and the motion was approved.

The fifth and final case dealt with a request to rezone approximately half an acre on Georgia Highway 92 from office/institutional to general commercial for a pest control office to set up shop on site. The applicants, Chris and Michelle Coyne, said they currently operate their company out of their home, but their business is growing and thus needs additional space to work with. As there was nobody signed up to speak either in favor of or in opposition to the matter, and with the commission members having no additional questions for the applicants, a motion was made to recommend approval of the rezoning, with the attached conditions of no outside storage and no overnight parking, which passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the Cherokee County Planning Commission will be its monthly work session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17.

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