Hickory Flat fights crowded development
by Michelle Babcock
February 20, 2014 04:00 AM | 2906 views | 1 1 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Developer and builder with KM Homes Doug Strall, far top left, and Phoenix Atlanta Capitol broker Bob Holbrook explain the proposed development in the Hickory Flat community Tuesday, along with other representatives from the company. <br>Staff/Michelle Babcock
Developer and builder with KM Homes Doug Strall, far top left, and Phoenix Atlanta Capitol broker Bob Holbrook explain the proposed development in the Hickory Flat community Tuesday, along with other representatives from the company.
Staff/Michelle Babcock
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CANTON — During a heated, standing-room-only public participation meeting Tuesday, more than 75 people packed the community room of the Hickory Flat Fire Station to voice their concerns over a proposed subdivision development.

About an hour of intense discussion ensued as many residents shared common concerns about an Alpharetta-based developer’s plan to build 229 homes on 176 acres along Batesville and Lower Birmingham roads.

Doug Strall, developer and builder with KM Homes, said the Hickory Flat area is growing and his company wants to build homes to sell from $300,000 to $600,000.

But residents in attendance raised concerns about the higher density of the plan and what that might mean to the community, including increased traffic and overcrowded schools.

Members of the rural area were strongly opposed to the idea of what many called a “cookie-cutter” neighborhood.

The land is now zoned residential with R-30, R-60 and R-80 zoning classifications. R-30 allows about one home per three-fourths acre, R-60 allows one home for about an acre and a half, and R-80, or estate residential, allows one home on just under two acres.

The developer wants to rezone the land for R-20 and R-40, which would almost double the density of the present zoning, equating to lower minimum lot size and higher overall density for the development. R-20 residential zoning allows for one house on less than a third of an acre, and R-40 is one home on just under an acre.

KM Homes wants to build three different sized homes in separate parts of their proposed subdivision. The largest “estate” homes would sit on just less than an acre of land, while the smallest houses would be on a quarter-acre.

The developer’s plans include 38 estate lots, 36 medium-sized lots and 155 small lots.

One family whose property borders the proposed subdivision said the area would suffer if the development pans out.

Betty Cropper and her husband live adjacent to the land where KM Homes hopes to build the new neighborhood. The Croppers said they have 530 feet of fence bordering the land.

Cropper said she’s concerned, like many others at the meeting, about traffic congestion, small acreage lots and too much density to fit with the county’s land use plan.

“It’s too dense, and that impacts all kinds of things like traffic and schools — and they’re already overcrowded,” she said.

Cropper’s husband, Jim Cropper, said more residents would support the project if the developer followed the zoning already in place for the property.

Strall responded to concerns about traffic, saying that more residents means more taxes to go toward fixing problems.

“They’ll do a traffic study of the area,” Strall said. “More homes doesn’t improve that, but it does increase the tax base and revenue base to improve that infrastructure.”

Strall said there is a market for all sized lots, including smaller lot sizes, because, while some people do want land for farming or horses, a lot of people “don’t want to spend Saturday and Sunday cutting all that grass.”

“Diversity in the market is a healthy thing, because you have people with different desires,” he said.

After the meeting, Strall said KM Homes will work on updating its plan and hold more public meetings for input.

“We got a lot of feedback here, and we need to go back and do some work and follow-up on that,” Strall said. “We are trying to do a zoning hearing in May, and we’ll do more meetings before then.”

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William Tabor
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February 26, 2014
What Mr. Strall and K&N Homes fails to realize is that for all that talk about increasing the tax digest which will bring about said improvements in the "infrastructure" is that none of those improvements ever seem to occur. Hickory Flat may be "booming" as they see it but the roads are still the same 2 lane rural roads that have been here for well ove 20 years. Lower Birmingham and Batesville roads are both MAJOR thorough fares for folks travelling east towards Roswell/Alpharetta/Norcross/etc. in the morning and evenings. I know many individuals that come from as far south as HWY 92 in Woodwstock, Sixes road, and as far west as Hwy 20 in Cartersville to cut across to McFarland in order to work at the Siemens facilities. These roads were never ment for that kind of traffice (they are both rated at 35 MPH which none of these travellers seem to do) and I have personnally had to assist in multiple accidents already over the past 15 years. As for schools, K&N homes doesn't work for the school system and it doesn't really matter how much of our tax digest goes into the school system when the state laws dictate that a certain percentage of that digest is pulled for other counties, is pulled for 3 years for "austerity" measures only to be "corrected" in the fourth year so that the Governor can try and buy his re-election, or is actively campaigned to be pulled so that the tea party darlings can fund their own little "private" publicly funded school. The schools, soecifically Creekland Middle and Creekview high school are overloaded already and whether these individuals and politcians like reality or not, adding another 225 homes on postage stamp lots won't fix that, if it did, explain the New York and Chicago school systems.
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