Buford bursts beyond border

BUFORD - Buford is continuing its outward expansion, moving it farther into Hall County and closer to the Mall of Georgia.

The City Commission on Monday annexed 57 acres located in Hall and Gwinnett counties, clearing the way for a drug store, a storage facility, an insurance office and a subdivision.

Commissioners also de-annexed 29 acres on Thompson Mill Road in Gwinnett County and approved the construction of what will be the city's tallest development.

The annexations were requested by the property owners.

Drug store riles neighbors

Residents of the Cherokee Farms Subdivision opposed a special-use permit that will allow a drug store with a drive-through window at 3335 Gravel Springs Road.

The 9.7 acres was annexed into Buford and rezoned from residential to commercial. Residents also argued against a proposed buffer reduction from 75 feet to 25 feet, and a proposed driveway cut into Cross Road.

"The property is shown for office uses on Gwinnett County's land-use plan," said Chuck Matthews. "We went to the county and looked at the plan before we bought our homes, and now the city of Buford comes in."

Commission Chairman Phillip Beard told homeowners that growth was coming to that area because of its close proximity to the Mall of Georgia.

"How long will it be before you're here trying to take advantage of a good offer, the same way this man is doing?" Beard asked Matthews.

Commission members voted unanimously to annex and rezone the property with a 50-foot buffer along the neighborhood's property lines with no driveway onto Cross Road. Buford's planning and zoning board recommended approval of the motion, and Gwinnett County did not object.

Potential commercial

Buford annexed 11.5 acres at 3671, 3673 and 3675 South Bogan Road. Sheila Griffith, who owns the half-acre at 3671 South Bogan Road, said she wanted to move into Buford because her property is for sale as potential commercial.

"It's easier to hook into Buford's sewerage than the county's," Griffith said.

The properties kept their residential zoning. Buford's planning and zoning board recommended approval of the annexations, and Gwinnett County voiced no objections.

500-home community on Thunder Road

Just across the Hall County line, 20 acres now have a Buford address. The acreage lies at 6082 Atlanta Highway, and 453 and 449 Thunder Road. The property will be part of the 500-home Stone Gate subdivision, where homes are expected to sell for $450,000 to $700,000. Buford's planning and zoning board recommended approval of the annexation and Hall County did not object.

Buford also annexed from Gwinnett County:

•A 6.6-acre tract along East Maddox Road owned by Dexter and Martha Wood. Builders plan four homes on the site.

•A 5.7-acre parcel along Davis Road in Gwinnett County. The property, owned by JoAnn Holbrooks, retains its residential zoning.

•A residential property at 3601 Quail Creek Drive, owned by Lois Alverson.

Following the annexations, Buford gave up 29 acres along Thompson Mill Road to Gwinnett County.

"Part of it's in Buford and part of it's out," Beard said. "The owner's been wanting to do something with it, and we've never been able to reach an agreement, so it will all be in one place now."

Buford's tallest buildings approved

Commission members approved a special-use permit that clears the way for construction of the city's tallest buildings.

A 10-acre tract was rezoned from commercial to office/industrial to allow the construction of a 200-unit retirement community on South Lee Street. The development will feature a number of office and retail outlets, tennis courts, walking trails and residential condos. Some of the buildings will be five stories tall, making them Buford's tallest buildings.