The Cherokee County Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of a residential development using a conservation design at its most recent meeting.
The application for the rezoning came from Manor Restorations, LLC, which was seeking to rezone just under 74 acres at 7351 Knox Bridge Highway from agricultural to residential requiring lots of 20,000 square feet in order to build a single-family residential conservation design community on the site. As part of his presentation to the planning commission, County Zoning Manager Michael Chapman said the site could be affected by the future widening of Georgia Highway 20 between Canton and Cartersville and, although calculations estimated that Highway 20 would be able to handle the amount of traffic the development could generate, it could exacerbate existing traffic problems. Chapman also pointed out that school children living in the community would be zoned for Teasley Middle School, which is already operating at more than 100 percent capacity.
Representing Manor Restorations during the meeting was Brady Hughes who said the property was actually part of a larger parcel of land, with the current land owners holding on to the remaining portion, which backs up to the head of Lake Allatoona. Approximately 41 acres of the site would be left intact as conservation space, while there would be a wide range of amenities offered to residents in the developed area.
“Originally proposed was a larger plan with more lots, more land disturbance, but after input from county staff and study of the conservation design community ordinance as amended about a year ago, this current plan was formulated to be more within the intent and purview of that ordinance as amended and without any needed relief in the form of variance or design remediation,” Hughes said.
During the public hearing, a number of people signed up to speak.
“The traffic situation, I don’t think this development is going to make a significant impact on,” Phil Hall said. “Overall, I like the design, I like the proposal, I like the conservation nature of it, I like the buffers they’re putting between other neighborhoods, I like that it’s an upscale development and so, just for what it’s worth, not everybody hates this development, and I think it’s a good plan and I’m in favor.”
Marla Lovell said her family owns land south of where the subdivision and is concerned about stormwater runoff coming from the development onto their property. She suggested an increased buffer around the stream.
Several of those who spoke against the rezoning were residents of the Copper Hills and Fieldstone subdivisions, all of whom were focused on the issue of traffic.
After public comment, Hughes stressed that the buffers would remain undisturbed, there would be no access point to the new community through the Copper Hills subdivision and flaggers would be supplied to help traffic get in and out of the construction site. Hughes said the development would be age-targeted, house prices would begin at around $400,000 and that, in order to help with the issue of overcrowding in the schools this site is zoned for, the developers would be willing to make a financial contribution to the school system.
Commission Member Rick Whiteside asked what the plans were for the remaining portion of the property, with the answer being that it would remain with its current owners, who would maintain a hunting cabin they had on site. Commission Member Tom Ware said he would be unable to support rezoning the property, citing the level of existing development and traffic.
“I would support a less intense zoning with larger lots, and I think there’s a desire and a demand for larger lots that you could put estate-size homes on in this area. I don’t see why we just have to keep zoning everything down, down, down,” Ware added.
Commission Member Lisa Tressler said she felt comfortable supporting the development.
Finally, Commission Chairman Bob Whitaker said that, when looking at how the proposed design stands up to the conservation design ordinance, “This design does in fact check off all those boxes. There is one item that is problematic to me, and that’s the traffic.”
Tressler put forth a motion to recommend approval of the rezoning, which was seconded by Commission Member Tom Hill. However, this motion failed in a 3-4 vote, with only Tressler, Hill and Whitaker voting in support. A follow-up motion to recommend denial of the rezoning came from Ware and was seconded by Whiteside. This motion passed in a 4-3 vote, with Ware, Whiteside, Ken Smith and Chris Van Zant voting in support.