Building and planning ordinance amendment unanimously approved

land use

HIAWASSEE, Ga – The second reading of the amended building and planning ordinance and later unanimously approved by Hiawassee City Council.

“In an effort to maintain proper density within the city the following shall apply, parcels of land shall be limited to six living spaces with no more than four structures per acre. No parcel shall have more than forty units. Parcels may not be divided to avoid the forty-unit limitation, and owners or successors must wait five years after subdividing a parcel into two or more parcels before building more than forty units on a divided parcel. Height restrictions are limited are 35 feet.”

The other change noted that for RVs five acres above the 1928 contour lanes for Lake Chatuge – it might be above water.

Councilmember Amy Barrett made the motion to approve, and Councilmember Nancy Noblet seconded. It passed unanimously.

The original amendment to the building and planning ordinance was for 10 units per acre. After several public hearings and readings, it was adjusted to six units per acre. The new ordinance standards will allow the Mountain Views Townhomes project to proceed on Hwy 76, next to the Georgia Vision Center.

Several members of the council expressed their belief that the adjustment was a good compromise on the contentious issue.

The ordinance affects only property within the city limits of Hiawassee. Moving forward, anyone within the city limits abides by the standard set forth in the latest amendment.

The developers are currently working with GDOT to sort through traffic issues since GDOT won’t allow a left turn onto the highway at that location. They are discussing adding a connecting road elsewhere on the property.

Additional city council business

Around 2 million people visited, Hiawassee for the fourth of July weekend.

Tyler Osborn was appointed to the downtown development authority.

Traffic concerns raised about planning development ordinance change

Hiawassee City Hall planning development ordinance qualifying

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Members of the public voiced several fears about the proposed planning development ordinance density change.

The new ordinance would allow one acre or large lots to place more units per acre with a maximum of four structures. Discussion about the ordinance update started after the presentation of the Mountain Views Townhome project from an outside developer.

The developer’s under contract for the five acres across from Georgia Mountain Vision Center. He plans to turn the two back acres into townhomes but only if the city changed the density ratio.

The city council’s been steadily moving along with the change, citing the importance of having housing available for young professional families. The proposed 16 townhomes would be three levels with a single car garage and either a two- or three-bedroom layout. The price starts at $230,000 and up.

Since the townhomes fall along Main Street and Ross Lloyd Road, developers must discuss the ingress and egress with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Currently, GDOTs will only allow a right in and right out from the proposed complex. Individuals won’t be able to make a left turn.


Proposed Townhomes mockup

The public commented that the area is already difficult to turn onto the highway in that area and adding more cars that will have to travel up the road to then turn around will make it worse.

“A change in density for a project like this may look minuscule, but if you take this across the whole city that’s a big deal, that’s a [potentially] tremendous amount of congestion,” Rob Robbins stated.

The ordinance would apply to the entire city because Hiawassee doesn’t have a zoning policy in place.

Councilmember Amy Barrett argued that one couldn’t judge it across the entire city because few lots could accommodate a project like the townhomes, and most aren’t on the market. She also commented that Mountain Views can’t be compared to Hawks Harbor because Hawks Harbor is on the lake with astronomical asking prices and HOA fees. It also has other issues including poor building practices.

According to Barrett, these proposed townhomes are for families with children who need somewhere to live in Hiawassee. If people want to see more restaurants, coffee shops, or businesses, the area needs to accommodate those types of people. As the city continues to grow, these questions need to be addressed.

It doesn’t apply to lots smaller than one acre, but Mayor Liz Ordiales added Hiawassee has more one acre lots than many people realize.

“The developer is wanting to maximize density. He’s got an investment; I understand that, but that’s not your job, that’s his worry,” Robbins remarked. “Your worry is the taxpayers.”

Councilmember Nancy Noblet commented she wasn’t sure the units would even be built because of the high prices of construction. If the deal goes through, the developer might end up selling the property if construction prices continue to soar and materials are scarce.

Apparently, the next potential buyer in line for that property is storage units. Everyone agreed they don’t want more storage units on Main Street, but without a zoning ordinance, they can’t prevent storage units from going in.

The public hearing for the planning development ordinance change will be on June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. The final discussion will be at the June 28 council work session, and the second reading at the July 6 council meeting.

Planning Development Ordinance Public Hearing on June 17

planning development ordinance public hearing

HIAWASSEE, Ga – The public hearing originally scheduled for May 24 was moved to June 17 to meet legal requirements for notice to the public.

June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center is the new date for the public hearing dealing with the proposed changes to Hiawassee’s planning development ordinance.

Density restrictions within city limits will be changing if approved. The new language applies to lots one acre or larger. Developers can build a maximum of 10 units per acre in a maximum of four units.

The change would accommodate the proposed Mountain Views townhome project with the goal of creating housing for young professional families in the area. The proposed price range is more than likely above the price point of those in the service industry, starting at $230,000 and up.

Councilmember Anne Mitchell came out vehemently against the project, but the other city councilmembers see the benefit of it.

Feature graphic courtesy of Mohamed Hassan.

Hiawassee City Council hears proposal for townhomes

Community, News
townhomes six units

HIAWASSEE, Ga – New townhomes project would require a change to existing the city ordinance for it to proceed.

Celtic Management presented the Mountain View Townhomes project during the March Hiawassee City Council work session.

Mountain View Townhomes would be built on two acres off Hwy. 76 across from the Taco Bell and next to Georgia Mountain Vision Center. The proposal included a total of 16 townhomes. 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.

The issue with the ordinance arises with the number of units per acreage. Currently, Hiawassee permits four units per acre and Mountain View Townhomes asks for 16 units across two acres.

Mayor Liz Ordiales stressed that a potential ordinance change needed to be handled the right way and to “think about this a little more.”

Proposed Townhome plot.

She asked about putting together a subcommittee to address the existing ordinance, and the city attorney stated it depends on how extensive a change is necessary.

Some councilmembers were on board with changing the ordinance to provide more living areas downtown.

“I don’t have any problem with tweaking the ordinance,” Councilmember Anne Mitchell said. She advocated for more density in the downtown area.

Councilmember Amy Barrett agreed with her stating the city needs more population and families. She added that younger families and young people, in general, would be attracted to the proposed townhomes.

The units would be three stories with a garage on the first level, kitchen, dining, and living on the second, and bedrooms and bathroom on the third floor. The deck would be located on the front of the building to take advantage of the views.

An HOA would be instituted for maintenance at around $100 a month. Currently, community amenities aren’t planned but that could change later.

Celtic Management would complete the townhomes in phases, so once the first building went up for sale, the construction on the second one would start. The company’s not in favor of adding a low-cost housing option because of past experiences.

The company representative Aaron Lawson said they try to hire local labor first for construction projects, but with the current hot market, it’s likely some bigger subcontractors would be brought in.

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