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Sugar Hill development held up by subterranean stream

SUGAR HILL - A proposed 10-acre subdivision at 5360 Sycamore Road is on hold due to the discovery of a formerly subterranean stream.

If city councilmen decide the stream is a state water, the development, aptly named Stone Water Subdivision, will have to be reworked to accommodate the required 50-foot stream buffer.

The underground stream was uncovered by a construction worker during grading. Sugar Hill revoked the development permit issued to Mill Creek Investments Associates LLC because the contractor graded beyond the established boundary. By then, the trickling stream was discovered. A new development permit will not be issued until the stream matter is resolved.

It falls on Sugar Hill city councilmen to decide if the stream falls under the category of state water.

"Under state regulations, the city is the issuing authority for permits, so it's up to the city to make that determination," said Lee Thompson, city attorney.

The question is whether the water actually flows, and to where. Sugar Hill's city code defines a state water as any water that flows across property lines. In this case, the water crosses a property line, according to Kaipo Awana, city planner.

Mitch Peevy, speaking for the developer, presented the council with statements from the state of Georgia and a private consulting firm. The letter from the state, dated Sept. 22, 2004, said, "There are no waters of the state on this property." A letter dated Aug. 2, 2004, from Gaia Environmental Consulting, the developer's consultant, called the water, "an ephemeral feature that flows during and/or following a rainfall."

Mike Sullivan, city councilman, inspected the property Saturday, after several dry days, and found the stream flowing rapidly enough to be heard.

Clint Thompson, city councilman, questioned how the water would affect the proposed homes.

"This is water under pressure," Thompson said. "Will people have water coming in their basements?"

Council tabled the request until June.

In other business in Monday's council meeting, councilmen voted to:

•Approve a special-use permit for 385 Brogdon Road that allows Kwon Sik Shin to open a school. Classes in English as a Second Language will be offered during the day and teachers will give music lessons at night. Classes are limited to 24 students.

•Approve a variance that allows Alan Dinsmore to construct a building at 622 North Price Road. Dinsmore will combine two lots for the project, that total 40,000 square feet. The property is zoned for heavy manufacturing, but the zoning requires a 43,560-square-foot lot for building. The variance reduces those requirements for this project.

•Annexed from Gwinnett County 17 acres zoned residential. The property will be part of a combined 35.8 acres on which developers will build a 103-home community. The neighborhood, tentatively named The Preserve, will hold 2,500- to 4,000-square-foot homes with two-car garages, valued from the mid-$200,000s to the low-$400,000s. Two tennis courts, a swimming pool and a children's play area make up the proposed amenity package. The acreage is shown as low-density residential on Gwinnett County's 2020 Land-Use Map.