One of our primary concerns with GDOT’s 6-lane proposal is that it will spur rapid and dense development that will change the character of the area.
Currently, most of the residential communities on and near Hwy 20 are designated as “country estates” and “suburban growth” on the county’s Future Development Map, which prevents dense single-family and multi-family housing from being constructed.
“Country Estates” and “Suburban growth” are defined as follows:
These designations, while not binding, allow for varying levels of density in single family homes, with AG and R-80 being the most spacious (all lots over 2 acres) and R-40 being the most dense (all lots a minimum of .459 acres). No lots smaller than .459 acres are permitted unless a developer applies for a zoning variance.
A recent zoning variance application (#PL20170000257, filed on 3/2/2017) by Smith & Kennedy Custom Homebuilders requests that 54 acres adjacent to Creekview High School along Owens Store Rd be rezoned from AG to R-20, allowing for the construction of 87 densely-packed homes on as little as .23 acres each. Not only is this proposal currently prohibited by zoning regulations requiring a minimum of 2 acres per lot, but it is inconsistent with the character area designation as “suburban growth.”
The following images taken from Cherokee County GIS show the current character of the area (left) versus the proposed density of the new development (right). The two flags on the left image are Creekview High School and Creekland Middle School. The subdivision nearest the proposed new development is The Shoals at Arbor Hill, where all lots are a minimum of 2.5 acres each. Both images have the same scale, meaning that the one on the right is not zoomed in.
In addition to changing the character of the area, Smith & Kennedy’s proposal would increase road traffic on Owens Store Rd by 833 trips per day and introduce a minimum of 64 new students to Macedonia Elementary School. The new homes would also be offered at approximately 30% the value of existing nearby homes, which could dramatically decrease property values of neighboring properties.
What does this have to do with GDOT’s plan for Hwy 20?
All applications for zoning variances are reviewed in terms of their impact on the existing community. The most relevant question to the proposed Hwy 20 expansion is the following:
Essentially, if a dense residential development will adversely affect existing streets, schools, etc., a zoning variance can be denied on those grounds. If, however, a 6-lane highway exists that would NOT be overburdened by a dense new residential development it will be permitted.
If Hwy 20 is expanded to 6 lanes, the road’s capacity will greatly surpass its current use. This will justify rezoning and will result in the construction of dense residential subdivisions, multi-family housing, apartment complexes, and eventually commercial developments including strip malls, hotels, and extended stay motels. Thus, scaling back the Hwy 20 proposal would decrease long-term development.
The proposal by Smith & Kennedy is set for Cherokee County Planning Commission review on April 4, and will be reviewed by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners on April 18. Both are public meetings held at The Bluffs (1130 Bluffs Pkwy in Canton).
To voice your opinion on this and other zoning variance proposals, please call or write to your Planning Commission representatives below:
Vicki Taylor Lee
Chairman (At large)