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Hotly protested industrial park continues to final step in rezoning process
Many residents from the Hampton Golf Village neighborhood came to speak in opposition to a proposed industrial park at a recent planning commission public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The proposed North Georgia 400 Business Park will be reappearing before the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation for approval despite loud and persistent opposition from neighboring residents.

The industrial park would be on the east side of Settingdown Road, south of the intersection at Smith Drive and Bottoms Road and the Hampton area neighborhood.

While a previous proposal for this item was county-initiated, it returned before the planning commissioners for a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 15 under the applicant The Pacific Group Inc. of Sandy Springs.

The applicant is requesting to rezone approximately 37 acres from agricultural district to restricted industrial district for three warehouse buildings totaling 383,175 square feet together with 384 parking spaces.

Hampton residents were particularly concerned about potential truck traffic on Settingdown Road, with many stating there is already truck traffic on the road today.

One Hampton resident Lindsey Reissig, who is also on the neighborhood’s HOA board, said she was on a walk with her family when they encountered an “eighteen-wheeler that had a hard time slowing down” on Settindown Road.

While Settingdown Road is a no-thru-truck traffic road, many other residents complained about existing truck problems.

Longtime resident Drew Wade has lived on the road since 1998.

Wade said he recently installed mailbox No. 16, following 15 others that have been knocked down by trucks.

Audience members laughed when District 4’s planning commissioner Nedal Shawkat said the developer mentioned it would spend its own money to pay someone to sit in a booth at the industrial park to tell trucks they were not allowed to go north on Settingdown Road to help prevent truck traffic.

Shawkat said he also laughed when he read that condition, and he was hoping to find a technology-based solution to help enforce that rule and eradicate even the current problem.

Other residents were worried that the development could lower their property values, with one speaker comparing the situation to the Shiloh area neighborhoods surrounded by commercial and industrial projects.

District 2’s planning commissioner Stacy Guy, who is a Shiloh resident, said his property values have not gone down but instead have continued to increase.

Most residents, however, encouraged planning commissioners to recommend denial of an industrial project but approval of a residential one.

According to Reissig, who said she attended a previous participation meeting, the developer said he would be in favor of zoning the property for a residential district for an age-restricted living project, similar to products by The Orchards Group.

“I believe that this is a reasonable and desirable compromise to everyone except, unfortunately, our commissioner,” Reissig said.

Reissig continued to say she did not understand why “our commissioner is so insistent on zoning this [industrial] while all of us in Hampton and the developer are both on board for” a residential zoning.

Many other residents, such as Linda May and Joe Hecht, who have both previously spoken in opposition to this project, were in favor of the age-restricted residential proposal.

District 3’s planning commissioner Jessica Thorsen also asked other board members why they were “still not going that [residential] route” when both the developer and community were in favor of something like that.

Shawkat said it was important to make decisions with the entire county in mind and developing the county’s commercial tax base.

As planning commissioners recommended approval of the rezoning request with a unanimous 5-0 vote, multiple Hampton residents expressed their frustration despite previously being told throughout the meeting that interjections, clapping and booing were prohibited.

One woman yelled “Y’all suck” while others told planning commissioners, “Just wait until the election.” Many booed and gave board members thumbs down as they left the meeting.

While the project received a recommendation of approval from planning commissioners, who are appointed by each District Commissioner and not elected, the item will need to receive official approval or denial from the Board of Commissioners.

The item is scheduled to appear before commissioners at 5 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Forsyth County administration building at 110 East Main St. in Cumming.