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Sugar Hill grants variance

SUGAR HILL -- The Sugar Hill City Council granted a key variance to a developer of a 27-acre planned retail center between Ga. Highway 20, and Suwanee Dam and Riverside Roads on Monday.

In agreement with federal and state agencies, the council granted Zebra Design Build Inc., developer for land owner Georgia Highway 20 Associates, a variance to a regulation requiring a 25-foot buffer along a stream near the property's northwest corner. The developer sought to build upon a small creek that inexplicably arose near the existing stream after clearing

of the 18-parcel assemblage began in January 2008.

The variance was key for the center, whose plans feature a Kroger, restaurants, a fitness center and a gas station, and is planned to open next fall. Zebra said that without the variance, the center would have become smaller, and likely, economically unfeasible.

Sugar Hill's variance, in keeping with federal and state approval, was required because it issues the building permit.

The council also:

* Approved the Planning and Development Department's reorganization of residential ordinances to allow storage buildings on corner lots.

* Named the north-most soccer field at new Gary Pirkle Park as James Avery Field, in honor of the late son of Meg Avery, a former city councilwoman and community organizer who has lived in Sugar Hill since 1990.

* Acknowledged Carmen Smith, daughter of City Manager Bob Hail, Sugar Hill Elementary teacher of the year. Smith was among 20 finalists for Gwinnett County teacher of the year.