The Woodstock City Council approved moving forward with the annexation and rezoning of two related parcels of land on Towne Lake Parkway at its most recent meeting.
The two pieces of property total 3.5 acres and are located at the intersection of Towne Lake Parkway and Interstate 575, adjacent to the Northside Hospital Cherokee Medical Office facility. According to the application, the hospital was interested in annexing the land and having it rezoned from the county’s general commercial classification to the city’s general commercial category, with all existing conditions to remain in place, as well as whatever signage is currently permitted in the county.
“The DPC (Development Process Committee) and the Planning Commission did recommend approval to you as recommended by staff,” Community Development Director Brantley Day said.
Day went on to explain that the city has been in discussion with Northside officials on bringing this into the city and taking care of an island of unincorporated Cherokee County for quite some time. Not only would this clean up some of the map in this area, Day said annexing the land in question could lead to positive long-term growth for the city as well.
One key portion of the request involves signs on the property for the Northside medical campus building adjacent to the parcels.
“As part of their request, Northside has been seeking to take down two existing signs on Towne Lake Parkway and install a new sign to replace these two, which would, I think, suit their needs better,” Day said.
Process Planner Dakota Carruthers jumped in, explaining that the sign Northside is looking to install on the land is 208 square feet and stands 16 feet tall, essentially making it more easily visible from every direction. However, city standards limit signs to a total of 120 square feet and a height of 12 feet, while electronic signs, which would be included on the overall structure, are only permitted in the Parkway Overlay.
Wrapping up the city’s comments on the case, Day said there were a handful of conditions staff members had come up with they thought would be effective, including that the two signs for the Northside campus currently on the property would be removed before the proposed new sign could be built and that the sign would have to be completed within four years of the annexation’s effectiveness date. He also said the property would be exempted from the Gateway District portion of the city’s development code.
“We would like these properties to be in the city, to be able to work with the city,” said attorney Parks Huff, representing Northside.
Councilman Rob Usher asked how soon the old signs could be removed from the property, with the answer from Northside officials at the meeting being one of the two could be removed immediately, but that they might want to keep the second one standing for the time being until the new sign was ready to be put in place.
“Is this the only signage you all envision on these two properties?,” Councilman Colin Ake asked.
Huff responded that yes, this would be the only sign on either parcel being annexed. Ake then asked if it would be agreeable that this become an official stipulation. Huff said his only concern with a blanket “no more signs” clause was that, if an additional medical office building was constructed on the parcel further away from Towne Lake Parkway, it might like to have its own sign, although Ake cleared up specifically what he meant by expressing his concern of future billboards being installed at the location. Neither Huff nor the Northside officials had any real objection to this being made part of the agreement.
Once the public hearing was closed with no residents speaking either in support of or in opposition to the matter, Ake put forth a motion to approve the rezoning and sign allowance with the conditions put forth by city staff attached, along with adding one more condition that would prohibit billboards from being placed on the property. The motion was approved in a 6-0 vote of the council, as was a follow-up motion to approve annexing both pieces of land into the city limits.