Hiawassee moving forward with planning ordinance modifications

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Hiawassee, Ga – City Council agreed everyone needed to participate in the review and potential rewrite of the planning ordinance.

After Celtic Management presented its plan to develop 16 townhomes on two acres next to Georgia Vision Center, it was clear the ordinance would need rewriting. The existing ordinance only allows for four units per acre.

The project entitled Mountain View Townhomes would include 10 two-bedrooms at 1,960 square feet for $230,000 and up. 6 three-bedroom units at 2,300 square feet for $280,000 and up.

“I think it’s a great idea. I love townhomes,” Mayor Liz Ordiales said about changing the ordinance, “but if we do this for him, we have to do it for everyone.”

She added that there’s more property in Hiawassee than the council may realize especially if they decide to let more units be developed per acre.

Hiawassee doesn’t have zoning, so any change goes into effect for the whole city, not just one area. It’s unlikely the city will institute a zoning ordinance in the near future.

City Attorney Thomas Mitchell stated the planning ordinance provides parameters, but the council needs to make those decisions. For instance, they can limit townhome developments to a minimum of two or three-acre lots. The council could restrict the construction of any additional storage units being developed within city limits.

Ordiales commented that she didn’t think commercial and residential developments needed to be separated in the document. She didn’t want to restrict either one.

Councilmember Jay Chastain’s worried about Hiawassee’s water and sewer capacity if the city grows rapidly without any checks and balances in place.

“Main street ought to be attractive to make people feel good about being here, Councilmember Anne Mitchell. However, she’s not in favor of the townhome project in part because she doesn’t believe they will sell.

Also, townhomes aren’t considered a subdivision, and the phrases townhouses or multi-family homes don’t occur in the current document.

Ordiales again stressed that the council and the planning committee need to “take a minute and make sure we do this right.”

Mitchell plans to read through the ordinance and highlight areas the council will need to address. The council will be emailing him any questions too. Hopefully, by the April 26 work session, they will have a path forward. The ordinance changes could take several work sessions.

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