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Sugar Hill compromises on new garage size

SUGAR HILL - The Sugar Hill City Council was flexible with a residential developer but inflexible with a resident at its monthly meeting Monday night.

The council allowed the Massie Knight Group, developer of the long-stalled Wiltshire Woods and Wiltshire Crest subdivisions, to build 19-foot-wide two-car garages, instead of the 24-foot-wide ones it had required upon previously easing both communities' setback and lot restrictions. The developer argued the wider garages would cause extraordinary modification of spec house plans by a builder, and the council wanted garages large enough that home owners would park both cars inside, instead of in the driveway or street.

Ultimately, both compromised, agreeing that garages would be a minimum of 19 feet wide and 400 square feet, and that covenants would allow a maximum of two cars in driveways. The council also increased the homes' front setback from 25 to 30 feet and required homes in both communities be at least 1,900 square feet.

The compromise was huge for Henry Massie and Jim Knight, who said the least-developed two of the city's 10 stalled communities might not have moved forward otherwise.

"This was certainly a win-win," Massie said. "They're hurting (economically) and we're all hurting ... in this economy."

The developer's attorney, Lee Tucker, was encouraged by the council's flexibility and eagerness to advance the 21-acre Woods community and the 18-acre Crest community. Neither community had more than curbs, sewer and storm water retention in place.

"The city was very responsible, thoughtful and deliberate in consideration of our requests," Tucker said.

Not as fortunate, however, was Jorge Sablon, a resident of the Pinecrest Station subdivision, who was denied a variance to allow his completed gazebo and fence to remain within the residential setback and a drainage easement. The resident at 1188 Pine Acre Drive claimed not to have known the gazebo required approval of his homeowner's association, nor a permit and inspection by the city. He offered to pay for permits after the fact, but the council saw no feasible means of modifying the structure to insure proper water flow.

Several residents and representatives of the community's homeowner association spoke in opposition to the gazebo, claiming they voiced objection to Sablon as he was building it. Sablon's variance was denied, and City Planning Director Kaipo Awana said the resident will be notified to take down the structure.