The board voted unanimously to hold off until April 1 on a decision to approve or deny Chatham Neighborhoods LLC’s request to rezone 67.5 acres off Highway 140 and Batesville Road to make way for the development.
Commissioner Ray Gunnin, who represents the largely rural area, said he had met with Chatham representatives about a reworking of their plans, but the Alpharetta-based company wasn’t ready to present its new proposal Tuesday. The company is considering reducing the amount of homes, commissioners said.
“They want to ask for a continuance of this for two weeks for them to get a plan together, have meetings with people out in the community and let them see the plan, see if they like it or not,” Gunnin said of the proposal that has divided some members of the community and officials.
The Cherokee Planning Commission has voted 5-3 to recommend the board of commissioners deny the request, which would have changed the land’s zoning from Agricultural, Office and Institutional and R-40 Residential to R-15 Residential. That vote sent the request to commissioners for final approval or denial.
Many residents, seemingly both for and against, attended the commission meeting Tuesday and left quickly after the vote to table the proposal. As they funneled out of the meeting, one woman called out thanking the board for carefully considering the request.
Part of the property up for rezoning is owned by Hickory Flat United Methodist Church, and many with the church have expressed their need to sell the land. Others in the area have said the plans were simply too dense and could have negative impacts on traffic and school population.
Gunnin said he had heard from many in Cherokee County who were passionate one way or another about the proposed neighborhood. He agreed with those who felt the original request was “too dense for that area” and didn’t fit with the county’s land use plan.
Commissioner Harry Johnston also had concerns about the original plan.
“Whatever it is, if I’m going to vote for it, it needs to be in substantial conformance to the land use plan,” Johnston said in the meeting. “As Commissioner Gunnin has said, the initial proposal clearly was not. The revised proposal that I’ve seen comes closer. It’s certainly a move in that direction.”
While Johnston said the revised plan seems to move closer to a solution that can please all parties, he added he wanted to see about a 35 percent reduction in the density of homes. The proposal he had seen only cut the amount of homes by about 20 percent, he said.
Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens told those at the meeting about another development coming north of Chatham’s proposed development with a “fair number of homes” planned.
“It’s our understanding that there’s a very high likelihood they will be able to develop that without any rezoning,” Ahrens said.