Dacula OKs townhome zoning

DACULA - City council members voted unanimously to approve the establishment of a new zoning designation (R-TH) for townhome developments in the city. According to mayor Jimmy Wilbanks, no zoning requests for townhome projects are pending, but some may be filed in the near future.

"We want to be ready for that when it happens, rather than scrambling to try to put something together real quickly," the mayor said.

City administrator Jim Osborn outlined some of the requirements a developer would have to meet to build a townhome project. At least 5 acres is required, with a maximum density of 8 units per acre. Townhomes will have to be at least 22 feet wide, and villas must be at least 40 feet wide. At least 1800 square feet of heated floor space per unit is required, and no more than 10 percent of the units can be leased at one time.

Osborn outlined other stipulations, such as brick, stone or stucco facades and firewalls.

"I think this is a pretty good ordinance. It will ensure a quality project," Osborn said.

Council adopts a buffer, landscape, tree ordinance

Council members voted to approve a new buffer, landscape and tree ordinance Thursday, in an attempt to keep Dacula green and environmentally friendly. The ordinance sets buffer standards and landscape regulations, but the meat of the law addresses tree requirements.

Every new subdivision built in the city must have at least 16 "tree units" per acre. A tree unit is the equivalent of a one 3-inch-diameter tree. An older, larger tree may account for two or more tree units, if the trunk is at least 6 inches in diameter.

If a developer can not meet the tree requirements in his project, his tree units will be placed in a "tree bank." The developer will then plant the equivalent number of trees elsewhere in the city, perhaps in a city park or some other right of way.

"This ordinance addresses the concerns that many people have with development and the lack of trees," said Osborn, who added that no more than 20 acres of land may be cleared within a developing project at one time.

The new ordinance does not apply to single family lots, only commercial developments and subdivisions.