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Buford residents turn out to oppose commercial rezonings

LAWRENCEVILLE - Roughly 40 Buford residents attended a planning commission meeting Tuesday night to oppose commercial rezonings they said would lead to further encroachment on their neighborhoods.

The properties seeking rezoning were both on Hamilton Mill Road. One was a proposed 16,000-square-foot commercial retail center at the road's intersection with Ivy Mill Drive and the other was a proposed 22,700-square-foot commercial center north of Pucketts Mill Road.

"It's commercial creep, and we all say no, no, no," said Tim Sullivan, a resident of North Gwinnett Estates who spoke to the planning commissioners Tuesday night.

The planning commissioners agreed and unanimously recommended denials of the two projects. The final decision on the zoning is expected to be made at the July 24 commission meeting.

Planning Commissioner Floy Jumper said he's seen many signs along Hamilton Mill Road for potential commercial property but wanted to make it known the property must first be approved for rezoning by the county.

"Just because you put commercial on a real estate sign does not make it commercial property," Jumper said.

Craig Goalen, president of the Ivy Creek Home Owners Association, said it could be a slippery slope once a residentially zoned area is changed in that area.

"If you approve this, it's just going to keep going down the street," Goalen told the commissioners. "There's plenty of commercial property down the road."

Sullivan agreed, pointing to Hamilton Mill Road's intersection with Pucketts Mill Road as a natural stopping point for commercial property.

Richard Shin, who had applied for the rezoning of one of the properties and spoke briefly to the planning commission on behalf of both the properties, declined to comment on Tuesday night's recommendation.

The planning commission also decided to push back its hearing of a mixed-use development on Pleasant Hill Road to its Oct. 2 meeting. The development would have multiple high rises and would replace the Gwinnett Station and Gwinnett Prado shopping centers, which are now mostly vacant.