The Cherokee County Planning Commission held public hearings on a pair of rezoning cases.

The first case involved a request to rezone 46 acres on Lakeside Drive, which includes land currently occupied by the Whispering Pines mobile home park, from general commercial and dense single-family residential to multi-family residential for the construction of 294 apartment units and 90 townhomes. This request was scheduled to come before the planning commission during its May public hearing meeting, but the developer requested a postponement of the hearing, which was approved. Since then, the developer has acquired additional property adjacent to the original parcel under consideration and has come forth with an amended application.

A handful of area residents came forward to voice their opinions on the matter. While most of those who spoke agreed that something needed to be done with the Whispering Pines property and that the proposed development would be an improvement to that area, there were still some concerns they held about transforming it according to the presented plan. One resident who spoke against the proposal said the county cannot support any more apartment complexes.

The representative for the developer stated he believed the plan as brought forward Tuesday met all of the criteria for approval and will generate far more in property tax revenue for both the county and the school system than is currently received.

Several members of the planning commission had their own questions about the project, including Richard Weatherby wondering what improvements the developer would make to Lakeside Drive and Tom Hill wondering if the development might be a better fit with a slightly different zoning classification. The developer’s representative said the Lakeside Drive would be brought up to county standards and, after consulting with the developer, would accept the slightly revised zoning classification for the project.

Once the hearing on the case concluded, the planning commission voted in favor of submitting a recommendation of approval to the board of commissioners with three conditions attached. The three attached conditions were that the roads would need to be improved and brought up to county standards, a dedicated right turn lane on Lakeside Drive to access Holly Springs Parkway would need to be added and Railroad Drive would have to be gated from the start, including not allowing construction vehicles to use that access point.

The planning commission then held a public hearing regarding nearly five acres along Highway 140 a developer is interested in having rezoned from low-density residential to neighborhood commercial in order to build a gymnastics facility on the property. In addition, the rezoning request includes a variance request to eliminate necessary zoning buffers on the west side of the property due to natural buffers already in place.

The developer’s representative explained that the proposed facility will become the new home of Zenit Gymnastics, currently renting a facility in the area of the Canton Industrial Park. The property under consideration would be centrally located for gymnasts throughout the county. The representative also pointed out the reasoning behind wanting to obtain a variance to eliminate the zoning buffers on the west side of the property. According to him, the natural buffers already at the site are far larger than what would be required to be placed on the development and that, if the buffer was still required, the property would be more difficult to develop. Commission Chairman Bob Whitaker asked if there would be competitions held at the facility, receiving an answer that there occasionally would be.

After discussion, in which none of the board members expressed having a problem with the case as submitted, a motion was made and approved to recommend approval of the rezoning with the variance.

The next meeting of the Cherokee County Planning Commission will be its regular work session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19.

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