Sugar Hill City Council overrides mayor's veto

SUGAR HILL - City councilmen voted unanimously on Monday to override Mayor Gary Pirkle's February land-use veto.

Last month, councilmen voted unanimously to approve annexation and rezoning to allow construction of a 78-home swim community on Ga. Highway 20 near Henry Bailey Road. Sugar Hill's Planning and Zoning Department had recommended approval of the rezoning from commercial and residential in unincorporated Gwinnett County to residential/planned residential development in Sugar Hill.

Pirkle vetoed the council's vote because all the acreage would not be owned by the same person.

A single-family residence stands on two acres in the middle of the property, creating a "hole" in its center. The developer, Ga. 20 Ventures, was asking for planned residential development zoning classification, often used when acreage has rough or challenging terrain. PRD allows developers the flexibility to build the same number of homes as allowed in residential zoning, but clustered in one area of the acreage, leaving the challenging terrain untouched as greenspace. Residential zoning has stricter lot-by-lot regulations.

The acreage is part of a planned 50-acre mixed-use community. Plans show 2.79 homes per acre, less than the four homes per acre allowed by Gwinnett's current zoning and three per acre Sugar Hill's residential zoning permits. Homes averaging 2,400 square feet will be priced starting at $350,000, according to Michael Sullivan, attorney for the developer.

Mayor Pirkle vetoes fifth council decision since


Monday, Pirkle enacted his fifth veto on a council decision in as many months. Councilmen voted 3-2 to rework Planning and Zoning members' length of service and the manner in which members are appointed. The measure would have increased members' terms from three years to four years, and each post would have been appointed by the city council member of the same post.

For example, if Granville Betts, P&Z member post five, wished to serve another term once his current term was over, he would have to be reappointed by Ron Johnson, councilman post five. In the past, all council members voted to approve or reject appointments.

"I prefer the system the way it is," Pirkle said. "It's hard to keep board members for their full terms as it is," Pirkle said.

The matter will be revisited in April's council meeting. The council needs four votes to override Pirkle's veto.

Thirty-eight more homes to rise in Sugar Hill

The council voted 4-1 to annex and rezone 8.68 acres at 5445 Suwanee Dam Road near Whitehead Road from residential in unincorporated Gwinnett County to residential/PRD in Sugar Hill.

Mostly residential properties surround the rectangular-shaped acreage, which is narrow along the road and deep. Plans show a gated community of 2,400-square-foot homes ranging in price from $200,000 to $300,000. Two-story homes will comprise 80 percent of the community, with one-story homes making up the remaining 20 percent at a density of 3.92 homes per acre.

Councilman Clint Thompson cast the lone opposing vote.

"One guy (a current resident) gets six new neighbors with this," Thompson said, referring to the zoning map. "Another guy gets three. If I were that guy, I would be mad."

Resident accuses council of trying to run off boat owners

A zoning ordinance amendment designed to beautify Sugar Hill riled a resident and former boat owner.

After receiving numerous complaints about people parking cars on their front lawns, the council considered the amendment that would require all cars, recreational vehicles, boats and camper tops to be parked on an asphalt or gravel driveway or moved from the property.

"Why are you all attacking boat owners?" Jim Sands asked. "It looks like you all are trying to run off all the boat owners. Not everyone can afford to pave a little spot out back or pay for expensive storage."

Councilman Clint Thompson agreed.

"I'm concerned about people who have a canoe, or a little John boat, or a camper top," Thompson said. "They shouldn't have to pour a pad if it's out of sight in their back yard."

The council tabled the amendment until April's meeting.