Neighborhood rezoning for store to be delayed

LAWRENCEVILLE - A bid to buy an entire subdivision to build a J.C. Penney and other stores on the land will be delayed until next month.

Planning Commissioner Paula Hastings said the request to rezone the subdivision on Essex Drive and Essex Court will be heard Aug. 21 to give both sides more time to understand the process and work out any details.

The 19 or so neighbors, who together live on nearly 22 acres off Ga. Highway 124 behind the second phase of The Avenue Webb Gin, have agreed to sell their homes to Strategic Realty Group, which wants to develop the land as a shopping center. Several planning commissioners have said this is the first time an entire subdivision has been purchased for a commercial development.

Attorney Michael Sullivan and several neighbors said the influx of businesses on the length of Ga. Highway 124 makes the decision to sell the homes the best one for the neighborhood.

Hastings said the decision will be tabled, however, to allay the fears of other neighbors who may think the development will encroach on their backyards.

Michael Schultz, the pastor of Sola Fide Lutheran Church, said his 400-member congregation will be selling about 12 acres of their land for the development, as well.

He said the church was not using the property, which was to be developed as part of a master plan.

Sola Fide has not been affected by traffic or other issues relating to The Avenue Webb Gin's construction and opening, Schultz said, and he does not think this project will adversely impact his congregation either.

"It won't make any difference, as far as I can tell," he said.

Schultz said if anything, his congregation would relish the opportunity to provide child care for workers in the new stores or enroll more children in the church's school as a result of the construction.