Taking action on a case that had been held over from its August meeting, the Cherokee County Planning Commission voted this week to recommend denial of a rezoning request related to a coffee manufacturing business on Cumming Highway.

In August, representatives from the CoffeeAM business at 12230 Cumming Highway went before the planning commission to request the rezoning of 11.76 acres at 12184 Cumming Highway from agricultural and residential requiring lots of 80,000 square feet to light industrial for the purpose of developing the Freehome Innovation Park. The development would allow the company to move its manufacturing across the road to the new site, as well as offering warehouse and office space for other interested businesses. Following the public hearing in August, the commission voted to table the matter so a new plan, taking into consideration the feedback heard during the hearing, could be drawn up.

According to the applicant’s representatives, the self-storage unit that had been included in the initial plan was removed from the revised plan, while additional vegetation and landscaping had been added to the proposed development. In addition, the company was willing to fix issues reported with the smell of the coffee preparation as a condition of the rezoning, including installing an afterburner.

Residents from the neighboring Fossett Farms subdivision, all of whom were in opposition to the rezoning, shared their concerns with the planning commission. One concern that the six residents who spoke during the meeting shared was how close to the buildings would be to the community and the impact this could have on the neighborhood.

“One of the things we like about where we are now is it’s a little bit of what I remember back home (in Missouri), and that is wide-open space with friendly neighbors,” resident Anthony Grover said.

Others argued that, while they did appreciate the attempts the applicants had made to consider the issues raised earlier, they stressed the issue of the odor coming from the facility, one of the residents described it as a strong smell of burnt popcorn, while also mentioning a blue haze sometimes seen in the morning.

“You indicated that the smell reducing burner system would be installed in either the existing building or the future building. What factors are going to be guiding that decision?,” Commission Member Tom Ware asked.

“Where the business moves,” came the response. “We want to solve the problem as a condition of the rezoning.”

As the planning commission moved toward rendering its decision, Chairman Bob Whitaker had a couple of additional thoughts to share.

“There are other LI (light industrial) properties in this vicinity,” he said. “There’s a significant difference with all those. With the exception of the Bobo property, none of that has subdivisions adjacent to it.”

Whitaker added that he felt putting light industrial against the least dense residential zoning category did not make much sense and that he believed there were a number of possible uses for the property that would fit better.

A motion to recommend denial was then put forth, which passed in a unanimous vote of the commission.

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