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Economy slows down Sugar Hill rezonings

SUGAR HILL -- Sugar Hill's multi-colored, 7-square-mile zoning map was a topic of discussion at its city council meeting Monday night, but a sluggish economy made for few changes to discuss.

Since the map's last re-adoption by the council in March, the only material changes were six acres annexed for Gary Pirkle Park and reversion of four previously commercial acres to residential following failed commercial development proposed at Ga. Highway 20 and Riverside Road. Rezoning of 26 acres for a Kroger shopping center at Ga. 20 and Suwanee Dam Road, the map's most noteworthy change in recent years, occurred in 2008.

"This is the least change I've seen since I've been here," said Kaipo Awana, Sugar Hill's planning and zoning director of five years. "Normally we have considerably more changes.

"The depressed real estate is saddening. In 2006 and '07 there was quite a bit of rezoning in Sugar Hill, but in '08 and '09, things just screeched to a halt."

Separately, the council:

* Discussed but tabled until next month clarifications to ordinances of commercial signs, including electronic ones, and their placement and size in proportion to businesses.

* Swore in Gary Pirkle for his third four-year term as mayor and Mike Sullivan for his second four-year term as councilman of Post 5, as well as first-time mayor pro tem. Newly elected Curtis Northrup was sworn in as councilman of Post 4.

Rosemary Walsh was sworn in as a member of the planning and zoning commission, and former councilman Nick Thompson and Allen Jorgensen were sworn in as Downtown Development Authority members.

* Approved a zoning buffer reduction for Sugar Hill Animal Hospital, to facilitate its enlargement and chain link fencing.

* Reappointed Chief Judge Margaret Washburn and associate judges Kathryn Schrader and Charles Barrett to municipal court.