Baldwin denies rezoning for business

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The Baldwin City Council denied a controversial rezoning request on Monday for approximately two acres at 925 Duncan Bridge Road.
Chet Barrett, on behalf of the property owners, Estate of Bobby and Frances Barrett, applied for the rezoning from Residential (R1) to Highway Business (HB). He planned to sell the lot to the owner of a landscaping business.
Barrett said this would be the base of operations for the landscaper and he would have equipment on the lot. Barrett stated other property surrounding this lot were currently zoned commercial. The Habersham County Airport is just across Duncan Bridge Road from this property.
Barrett said he thought it would be a hard sale for someone wanting to put a house on this lot as that is what it is currently zoned for.
“I don’t think anyone wants to look out their front door and see planes leaving the airport,” Barrett said.
A large group turned out for the public hearing portion of Monday’s meeting to voice concern with the rezoning.
The residents speaking in opposition to the request came from two subdivisions near the property, Mallard Pond and Chandler Heights.
Sandy Evans, Mallard Pond, said she doesn’t think a business of any kind was a good fit for this lot. She said her concern isn’t necessarily with the landscaper, but what could go in after the landscaper is gone.
Jacky Addison addressed the council about the noise and traffic that a business could cause in the area.
Chandler Heights resident Mary Benson said, “The airport and business park need to stay on the other side of the road (Duncan Bridge Road).”
Peggy Fortson said, “If this rezoning is approved you will just be opening up a Pandora’s Box.”
Joel Harlow, Mallard Pond, said the rezoning would de-value the residential property around it and the tax values would go down.
“Once it is changed to Highway Business, it can’t be changed back,” said Tom Heflin, Chandler Heights. “I would like to see it stay the same as it is currently.”
Nathan Davis said, “You will be going down a slippery slope, if you approve this rezoning.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Parrish said this is a small lot with residential zoning around it and changing it to highway business would open it up for anything.
Parrish said the council had previously received a rezoning request similar to this one on another piece of property and it was denied after some of the same concerns were voiced by nearby residents.
“That one was denied,” Parrish said.
Council member Alice Venter, who is a real estate agent, said she understands where Barrett is at as far as selling the lot for residential.
“You can’t sell to someone wanting to build a house with the airport just across the road,” Venter said. “As a real estate agent, I do understand that.”
However, Venter said she also understands the concerns from the nearby property owners.
Parrish called for a motion to approve the rezoning, but no motion was made.
“With no motion received, that constitutes a denial,” Parrish said.

For more news from Baldwin, see this week’s issue of the Banks County News.

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