SUWANEE -- What was presented as a possible improvement to the Gateway area of the city hit an unexpected speed bump on Tuesday night.
A rezoning request to allow for a self-storage facility at 345 Sawmill Drive in Suwanee, near Interstate 85, was tabled by the City Council until the Oct. 11 City Council Workshop meeting. Councilman Doug Ireland made the motion because he said the proposal didn't match the concept design of the Gateway, and didn't go along with the city's comprehensive plan, which called for office space in that area.
Because city staff had worked for nearly four months with Waylon Hoge, whose company Integrity Engineering did the civil design of the proposed facility, and the project had staff approval, the Council's 4-2 vote to table surprised Hoge.
"We hope it gets approved because we think it would be a great improvement to the city," Hoge said. "I don't think any changes need to be made. I think we need to just go to the work session and find out what Council is looking for."
Hoge said his group delayed the proposal to Council one month so it could receive feedback from city staff.
"I want to hear from my fellow Council members on their vision for what they want that property to look like," Ireland said. "This project would be an improvement over what's there, a huge improvement. It's a pretty storage facility. It has nothing to do with the quality of the project. It has everything to do with the overall vision."
The area was previously zoned commercial, but the proposal was to make it light industrial. The property is owned by Regency Church of God, and the rezoning request was made by Amburgy Properties.
The self-storage facility would be 70,000 square feet and include three buildings. City officials had said they were confident that the fenced-in area would not lead to criminal activity. City Planning Director Josh Campbell told council members that a rezoning of the area would present a positive image that city officials hope would continue their efforts to improve the Gateway, which has several closed or vacant businesses.
About 10 days ago, the city unveiled a new police substation and training facility near I-85. Jerry Spangler, director of architecture with Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh and Associates, advises the city on what buildings should look like along Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and in the Gateway area.
Campbell told the Council that Spangler said he was impressed with the design plans for the self-storage facility.
Councilman Dick Goodman said the Council should not let something that's not perfect stand in the way of something that's very good.
"I'm not sure what would change between now and two weeks," Goodman said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, an emergency notification policy was also adopted, and city officials expect to launch a program on Monday through the company CodeRED to notify residents about emergency situations such as a gas leak, a terrorism threat and non-emergency information like upcoming events.
Police Chief Mike Jones presented the Council with a policy which it adopted for the shooting range at the new police substation and training facility. The policy coverage liability and cost issues and governed non-Police usage of the shooting range.
New city council member Beth Hilscher, who joined the council in July, was re-appointed to the Downtown Development Authority. Hilscher resigned when she qualified to run for Council.
The Council also applauded Suwanee Day volunteers and the planning committee, and showed a timelapse video of the Friday and Saturday of the arts and crafts festival preparations and activity. City manager Marty Allen said he was amazed by the work put in by volunteers.
"The gratitude cannot be said often enough, or deep enough, or heartfelt enough," Allen said.