Sugar Hill commercial center OK'd

SUGAR HILL - Residents in the Suwanee Dam Road area will soon have 85,750 square feet of shopping and dining space.

Sugar Hill city councilmen unanimously approved the annexation and rezoning of 10.5 acres at 5854 Suwanee Dam Road, about 800 feet from the intersection of Ga. Highway 20.

Although historically residential, the area has been the target of some recent commercial development. Plans for this retail center show 10 one-story buildings constructed of brick, stacked stone or stucco with a variety of heights, giving the development an old town appearance. Six buildings will be reserved for office use and four for commercial/retail uses with 490 parking spaces.

No drive-through restaurants, auto repair shops, contractor offices, funeral homes, gas stations, convenience stores, hotels, storage, taxi services, fortune tellers, pawn shops or check cashing services will be allowed. The acreage behind the development must be preserved as open space.

State water buffer in proposed subdivision settled

City councilmen and a subdivision developer that discovered state water running across the property have reached a compromise about the size of the stream buffer.

The development, tentatively named Stone Water Subdivision, will have a 50-foot buffer protecting its stream, narrowing to 40 feet at the widest part of the cul-de-sac.

In the summer of 2006, developers and City Council members discovered a stream running through a proposed 10-acre subdivision near Sycamore Road. The stream was a little more than a trickle bubbling up from an underground spring, but trickle it did, across property lines, causing it to be classified as state water under Sugar Hill's city code. The city had earlier pulled the company's construction permit after a heavy equipment operator graded beyond his boundaries. That excess grading brought the stream to light, and the formerly busy construction zone went silent.

Before construction shut down, the state required only a 25-foot stream buffer. During that down time, the state raised its requirements to a 75-foot buffer. Developers argued the project was grandfathered in under the lower stream buffer. City officials countered that, had the company's employees not graded beyond their boundaries, the question of a larger buffer would have never arisen.