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Sugar Hill approves buffer reduction variance for retail center

SUGAR HILL - There will be no pedestrian walkway connecting The Links at Sugar Hill Golf Club subdivision with the proposed Links Village retail center on Suwanee Dam Road.

Sugar Hill's planning department recommended denial of a variance that would have allowed the walkway and reduced a zoning buffer between the two developments. Instead, city councilmen approved the variance with adjusted conditions drawn up by affected property owners, the president of Showcase Communities and planning department staff.

"This plan represents a very good compromise," councilman Marc Cohen said.

Officials of Showcase Communities, the company that built The Links subdivision and is constructing The Links Village, wanted to build a 10-foot private path connecting the community with the retail center. They also asked to reduce the 75-foot undisturbed zoning buffer to 15 feet, 10 feet and 0 feet at three of the property lines.

"We would rather not have the walkway for security reasons," said J. W. Bailey, 77, a lifelong Sugar Hill resident. "It would be convenient for us to walk to the store, but it would also be easy for someone to park at the retail center and go in the houses."

Several residents spoke against the walkway and sent letters of objection. Councilmen approved amended conditions that reduce the buffer to 50 feet and negates the walkway.

Half acre annexed, rezoned

Daniel Creek subdivision, under construction on Suwanee Dam Road near Whitehead Road, grew by a half acre in Monday's council meeting.

City councilmen annexed and rezoned the land from residential zoning in unincorporated Gwinnett County to planned residential district in the city. The half acre, which currently holds a small, older home, will add four additional lots to the gated 38-home neighborhood. The move reduces the density from 4.3 homes per acre to 4.11.

Homes in Daniel Creek will be priced from the high $200,000s to the low $300,000s. Developers have set aside 0.74 acres as undisturbed greenspace and will build a gazebo to shelter students waiting for the bus.

Sugar Hill's planning department recommended approval of the annexation and rezoning, and no one spoke against it.

Officials appointed

Councilman Nick Thompson was appointed mayor pro tem for the new term.

Former council member Kim Hall was appointed to the Planning Commission, replacing Granville Betts, whose term expired. Chad Hall was reappointed to his expired position.

Judge Margaret Washburn was reappointed municipal judge, and Chris Adams and Charles Barrett were appointed associate municipal judges for 2006. Judge Washburn has served Sugar Hill as chief judge since 1990. She suggested that Sugar Hill expand its court days and times to accommodate the increase in cases.