SUGAR HILL - Sugar Hill's vision of a turn-of-the-century, walker-friendly downtown is materializing.
City councilmen Monday rezoned 12 acres at the corner of Ga. Highway 20 and Hillcrest Road from manufacturing to general business classification.
Plans show a retail/office complex, tentatively named Mall of Sugar Hill, with six buildings totaling 155,406 square feet and landscaped parking. Second-floor office space will comprise 25,000 square feet of the project, with a restaurant and specialty grocery store in the front buildings. All buildings will be roofed with copper enamel in keeping with the city's downtown design standards.
The businesses were staggered to make best use of the parking area. Office use is expected to fill the parking lot during business hours on weekdays, while the grocery store and restaurant should draw patrons during evenings and weekends.
No one business hall may take up more than 75,000 square feet of space. A list of restricted businesses include auto repair or sales, mortuaries, motels, equipment rental, self storage, taxi service, contractors offices and fortune tellers.
Sugar Hill's planning staff recommended approval of the project, and councilmen were delighted with the lowered zoning.
"They can build a truck terminal on the property under the current zoning," said Councilman Steve Edwards. "We need this zoning to protect the citizens in the neighborhood and preserve their quality of life."
No one spoke against the rezoning.
Second church sign OK'd
Sugar Hill United Methodist Church will get a second ground sign, but no more.
The church has so many programs and community outreach projects that the congregation wants more signage to promote them. Church officials requested a variance for a second ground sign, reduction of time limits for temporary signs and permission to display lawn banners.
City councilmen voted unanimously to allow a variance permitting the church a second ground sign, but nixed the request for banners and temporary signs.
"Another marquee is a good variance, but banners all over the place is not a precedent we want to set," said City Manager Bob Hail. "We will become the banner city."
Sugar Hill creates three new employment positions
Sugar Hill has grown to about 15,000 residents, which increases the workload on city officials. In response to Sugar Hill's growth, city councilmen voted to approve three new positions - a director of recreation, a director of infrastructure and a director economic responsibilities. Total combined salaries should reach about $250,000.
"We can hire these positions with no tax increase," Edwards said. "We have the money in the budget."
Leash ordinance passed
Some people are letting their dogs run loose in parks and neighborhoods, and the situation has not gone unnoticed.
City councilmen voted unanimously to amend the animal control ordinance to require dogs be under restraint both on and off city property. Owners will get a warning for the first offense and a ticket for the second. Fines can reach as high as $1,000 for unrestrained dogs.
"I've seen dogs running loose in the park while 4-years-olds are playing T-ball," said Mayor Gary Pirkle. "The dogs are twice their size."