Sugar Hill OKs Habitat for Humanity homes

SUGAR HILL - Two 1,600-square-foot Habitat for Humanity houses, built with concrete siding and valued at $140,000 each, will rise on .32 acres at 4758 Sylvan Street.

An 800-square-foot blighted house on the site will be torn down to make room for the two new homes.

Sugar Hill's Planning Department denied the initial request for rezoning from mobile home to single family residential, because the future land-use plan shows the parcel as commercial/office, and because the houses would be built on 6,610-square-foot lots. Sugar Hill requires a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet.

In January, the request was resubmitted as a variance, which would not change the zoning, but would allow construction of a stick built house on a mobile home lot with a 5-foot setback reduction. Sugar Hill's Planning Department does not make decisions regarding variances.

Councilmen Clint Thompson and Nick Thompson voted against the variance because it did not conform to the city's future land-use map, adopted in 2005.

"This went in as a rezoning and came out as a variance," said Steve Edwards, councilman. "I don't want to set a precedent of building on smaller lots."

Sylvan Street and the surrounding area have lived under mobile home zoning for decades. Only one mobile home remains on Sylvan Street, although others stand in the vicinity, and two lots one street over were rezoned in 2005 to allow for duplexes.

Habitat for Humanity helps working, low-income families acquire affordable homes with no-interest mortgages. The homes are built by volunteer labor, except for the electrical and other technical work. The homes' recipients are required to contribute 300 to 400 hours of labor to construct their homes.

Dawn Gober, a real estate agent who owns two neighboring lots, said she had no problem with the variance.

"Mine are still zoned mobile home," she said. "I just bought them for an investment. We can give people a home."

City tables rezoning request for landscape business

An annexation and rezoning request, to which Gwinnett County objected, was tabled until March.

Chris Astley and Jay Stephens want to purchase a single-family home on 2.87 acres at 5442 Ga. Highway 20, near Sugar Ridge Drive, to house Davis Landscape, which has outgrown its Forsyth County location.

Sugar Hill's Planning Department recommended approval of the project. Michael Comer, Gwinnett County's Administrator, stated the county's opposition on the grounds that Gwinnett's 2020 land-use plan shows the area as low-density residential. Because the acreage lies in the county, it is not included in Sugar Hill's future land-use map.

"We desire to make an investment in the property," Astley said. "We would be willing to take a temporary rezoning or special use permit, say 60 months. At that point, we will have outgrown the site and it can revert back to residential."

Council members voted 3-2 against approval of the request, but because they did not vote to deny it, they tabled the request until next month. Edwards suggested the pair look for an investment on Brogdon Road.

"I meant what I said, that we want you in Sugar Hill," Edwards said. "There might be a workable solution in between."

Nick Thompson voted against the project because of the traffic hazards landscape trucks could create on Ga. Highway 20.

"I have some real concerns about truck traffic going from zero to an uphill speed," Thompson said. "People speed through that area."

The deciding factor against the project was its incompatibility with future plans for the area.

"We spent a lot of time on this future land-use map," said Clint Thompson. " I am not against changing the plan, but I'm not going to do it one zoning at a time."

Land donation accepted

Alan Densmore and 3-D Investment Properties donated a 0.7-acre triangle of land surrounded on all sides by roadway. It forms an island enclosed by Brogdon and North Price Roads.

The land's value is unclear. Mayor Gary Pirkle said housing lots were selling for around $60,000 per site, but the tract's location made it unsuitable for development. The pine tree-filled lot will be added to Sugar Hill's greenspace, Pirkle said.