Mimicking a similar move in March, commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Brian Poole against, to delay for a month a decision on Chatham Neighborhoods’ request to rezone 67.5 acres off Highway 140 and Batesville Road.
Poole said Wednesday he was against postponing the decision because he felt the delays were a detriment to Hickory Flat United Methodist Church, which is trying to sell part of the land to a developer.
“They’re wanting an answer pretty quick. I’d just like to see a vote, yay or nay,” Poole said. “I just feel like it’s costing the church more money, as far as interest.”
Commissioner Ray Gunnin, who represents the area of Hickory Flat, said Chatham submitted revised plans last Thursday to reduce the originally proposed 115 homes down to less than 100.
The reduction came amid concerns from residents and officials the original plans didn’t fit with the county’s land use plan and were too dense for the area.
More than a few neighbors to the proposed development have sounded off in recent weeks, saying Chatham’s plans could have adverse impacts on the area. The Cherokee County Planning Commission seemed to agree the plan didn’t fit with the land use plan and recommended commissioners deny the company’s original request March 4.
But before the vote to postpone a decision Tuesday, several residents spoke to the board of commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting and made their case in favor of the Alpharetta-based developer’s plans.
Darcy Miller, a member of Hickory Flat United Methodist Church, said although many had spoken out against the development, there were others who felt it would be good for the community.
“The opposition has done a great job of being very vocal in their campaign against this,” Miller told the board. “However, that does not mean that they represent the community as a whole. In fact, I would deduce they represent a small minority on this issue.”
Miller said she recently moved to Woodstock because she was unable to find a house in the Hickory Flat area.
“There is a severe lack of inventory on the market, and the need for affordable housing in this entire area is certain,” she said. “This (proposed) community gracefully maintains the integrity of the Hickory Flat community.”
Hickory Flat resident Danny Mackey said he felt the original plans were out of character for the area, but he appreciated the developer’s concessions so far.
“I would agree that the original zoning for this property was too dense. But in light of the change, I would definitely like to see the board approve,” he said.
Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the fact the church has a stake in the rezoning makes the case different from most.
“It’s a different dynamic than we see most of the time,” he told the attendees at the meeting. “That’s not saying one thing in favor of either or the other. We’re really kind of looking for a win-win that can satisfy both the sellers, the buyer and the community. And it’s tricky.”
Gunnin said he felt 30 days would give enough time for all parties involved to reach whatever comprise could be reached.