By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
City council approves request for 176 homes on Pilgrim Road
City Hall

A recently-approved rezoning request will add more than 170 residences to the city of Cumming.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, members of the Cumming City Council voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Linda Ledbetter opposed, to rezone 78 acres at 1785 and 1735 Pilgrim Road from single-family residential district (R-1) to moderate-density residential district (R-2) with concurrent variances for a residential use with a mixture of housing types and a total of 176 units.

The plans call for 102 cluster and 74 single-family detached homes.

A public hearing during a meeting in November brought out several speakers opposed to the project, and Councilman Joey Cochran said there had been “big changes since our last meeting.”

Among those changes were flipping larger lots to the east of a creek running through the property and smaller lots on the west, increasing the minimum lot width for cluster homes from 52 feet to 63 feet, increasing the minimum lot size for the single-family units from 7,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet and adding fencing along bordering properties.

A previous request for the project included townhomes and would have had a total of 205 units, but developers said at a previous meeting they had dropped that part of the plan.

The development is also planned to include neighborhood amenities including 28.3 acres of open space, walking trails and a sidewalk network.

The site will be accessible from two points on Pilgrim Road.

Ledbetter, who voted in opposition, said she had only originally voted to annex the property to allow the owner to build a barn and felt the project was too dense and would increase traffic on Pilgrim Road.

“I wish we’d never annexed it, and I certainly don’t want this high-density zoning,” Ledbetter said. “I don’t want the city of Cumming to become like Gwinnett County where there’s little houses crammed everywhere. To say this is affordable housing is untrue. When you charge $300,000 and $400,000 for a townhome, that is not affordable.”

Councilman Christopher Light contended that there were no townhomes and the property met the city’s density standards.

During the previous public hearing, neighbors opposed to the project raised issues with the placement of a sign with information on the zoning, which several speakers said was hard to see from Pilgrim Road and had concerns for the density of the project.

“I’ve been there 22 years,” said TJ Kemp, who lives in the nearby Emerald Springs neighborhood. “[My home] is my biggest investment. I don’t have anything bigger, and the fact that there is going to be 2.5 houses that butt up against my backyard, and my backyard is … not that big, there are just simply too many houses in that subdivision.

“We know a subdivision is going in, but that is almost absurd on what you’re doing to that property and what is being proposed [and] what’s going to happen to the rest of the real estate around there.”

At that time, developer David Hole said he understood neighbors’ concerns with the project but said he was against postponing a decision because the project had already been delayed and was nearing the end of his contract.

“I understand, I just hate to be the one punished for the sign being in the wrong spot,” he said. “As far as I can think, the buffering is the only thing I can do between me and them. I am doing everything I possibly can to put the trees in so nobody’s looking at the back of each other.”

At the public hearing, before council members voted to postpone the decision, Ledbetter made a motion to deny the zoning but did not receive a second.

The land became part of the city in 2019 as part of a total of 113.5 acres, which included the Sawnee View Memorial Gardens cemetery, that was annexed from Forsyth County.

After being annexed the property was rezoned to the city's annexed property (AP) district.

The AP zoning means a property must have the same standards as the county zoning but must be rezoned to a new city designation within 18 months.

Under state law, newly-annexed properties into the city are required to have a similar zoning to the one it had in the county for at least a year.

The property was rezoned again in January to R-1, which Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow said at the time was the “most comparable thing” to the previous county zoning.