Commission to mull Hickory Flat development
by Joshua Sharpe
March 16, 2014 04:00 AM | 3751 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ray Gunnin
Ray Gunnin
Harry Johnston
Harry Johnston
CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners is set Tuesday night to take up a controversial proposed development in the Hickory Flat community.

Chatham Neighborhoods LLC is asking the county to rezone 67.5 acres off Highway 140 and Batesville Road to make way for the 115-home development that has some in the rural community divided.

“I have received a huge amount of interest in the project,” said Com-missioner Ray Gunnin, who represents District 2, where the proposed development would be located. “They have been both for and against the zoning changes.”

Part of the property up for rezoning is owned by Hickory Flat United Methodist Church. Many members attended the Cherokee Planning Commission meeting earlier this month to explain their position in favor of the rezoning.

Dozens of residents from the area also turned out to show their vehement opposition for the plans they felt were too dense for the area.

The planning commission voted 5-3 to recommend the board of commissioners deny the request, which would change the land’s zoning from Agricultural, Office and Institutional and R-40 Residential to R-15 Residential.

The board of commissioners will make the final decision.

Residents against the plan said they were concerned the development wasn’t consistent with the county’s land use plan and would be out of character for the area.

“We just felt like that it was too dense for this part of the county. It doesn’t comply with the land use plan,” said nearby resident Richard Cowart on Friday. “The effect it’s going to have on the neighbors is just going to be too much.”

He added: “If you give them a whole bunch of density, the guy next to them is going to say, ‘Well, why not me?’”

Cowart said he wasn’t opposed to seeing the land developed; he just wanted to see it done the right way.

Members of the planning commission agreed that the proposal didn’t fit with the land use plan. Hickory Flat United Methodist’s pastor has argued they needed to sell the land, which was draining away money in upkeep costs and thus hurting their ability to minister.

The Alpharetta-based developer’s requested zoning class would allow about three homes per acre.

Resident concerns include traffic and school crowding.

Parks Huff, the attorney representing Chatham Neighborhoods, has defended the plans, saying every school would be impacted if the neighborhood was built “is under capacity.”

Commissioner Harry Johnston met with the developers Friday and said they offered a compromise that is “better than the original plan.”

“But it still doesn’t substantially conform to the land use plan and the predominant surrounding land uses,” he said. “Unless the density comes down somewhat further, I will probably vote for the denial recommendation.”

Gunnin said he was looking for a compromise as well.

“In conjunction with the established plans and ordinances, I am hoping to come up with a plan that will be acceptable to all involved,” he said Friday.

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March 16, 2014
It is a shame that the church made a bad investment, but the property owners in Hickory flat do not have to fix their problem. And their ability to minister goes way back to the way they handled the Welborn situation.
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