SUWANEE — Listing 10 conditions as a way to mitigate any concerns, the Suwanee City Council on Tuesday approved a residential development for a piece of land that has a long legal history.
In a unanimous decision brought by a motion from Councilman Kevin McOmber, the Council voted to approve plans to rezone the 36.34 acres along Moore Road at Short Street to support plans by Spartan Investors I LLC to build 55 homes that cost $500,000 each. The public hearing portion of the meeting lasted about an hour as four long-time residents voiced opposition to Spartan attorney Matt Reeves of Andersen, Tate and Carr.
In his motion, some of McOmber’s conditions were sidewalks on both sides of the road, having brick or stone on three sides of each house and no individual access to Moore Road.
“I think we captured all of those concerns and drafted some conditions that mitigated the concerns, and hopefully will allow a very nice project to maintain the same character and feel of that neighborhood,” McOmber said. “I came in the meeting with an open mind not knowing exactly what we would hear. If you look at my notes, there were a lot of those that were scribbled on the fly.”
Spartan Investors I is made up of Mike Phelps, David Bowen and Tip Cape.
The rezoning changes the property requirements from R-140 to R-100. For R-140, the minimum lot size is 30,000 square feet, and the minimum width 140 feet. For R-100, the minimum size for a sewered lot is 18,500 square feet, and minimum lot width is 100 feet, Planning Director Josh Campbell said.
“The planning staff did an extremely thorough job and we’re hopeful that the mayor and council would honor that, and we’re grateful that they did,” Reeves said. “These folks really do everything that is humanly possibly to honor the input from area residents.”
The decision comes about five months after the Georgia Supreme Court voted to overturn a jury verdict that said the city would have to pay a landowner from a case involving the property that began in 2008. That ruling stemmed from allegations that the city council improperly changed its zoning laws after learning of plans for Notre Dame Academy to locate in a residential area. Reeves represented Notre Dame Academy in that case.
The homes are expected to feature at least 3,600 square feet, Reeves said. Adjacent property values, which ranged from $231,900 to $275,000, would rise following the development approval, Reeves said. The same development group built other Suwanee subdivisions, such as McGinnis Reserve, Barrington and Town Center.
“You could tell, they didn’t just come up with that during this meeting,” said John Rispin, who has lived in Suwanee since the late 1970s, of the motion and conditions. “That’s why Suwanee’s such a good place.”
Rispin said that area along Moore Road was a wagon trail, which allowed people to bring produce into Suwanee decades ago. In more recent years, it was a horse pasture.
“That area is unique,” Rispin said. “We’re never going to get that back. … That’s what makes our area so unique, the wilderness, the farm, the quietness. It’s called Suwanee Farms, by golly. You hear the Whippoorwills at night, all the tree frogs chirping, then the howl of the coyotes, man, screeching.”
Don Trawick, a 20-year Suwanee resident, said he was disappointed and upset by the decision.
“Now they set a precedent, they say not, but you set a precedent to bring in R-100s in that area,” Trawick said. “Very, very concerned with the direction the city’s going. I love Suwanee, but with the growth, where is it going to stop?”
Trawick was one of three Suwanee residents who attended the Supreme Court hearing in October, because he said he was concerned with the area.
As the Suwanee housing market continues to build, Campbell said the city will have only two neighborhoods in the next year that are actively building, which puts more pressure on buildable lots.
“We foresaw something like coming,” Campbell said. “But there’s not a lot of subdivisions that are going to have home values like this.”
Also at the Council meeting, qualifying dates were approved for the Nov. 5 election. The dates are 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 26 through 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 28. The Council also approved the adoption of a new logo created by Hein van der Heijden, an Atlanta-based, award-winning designer.