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Waterford residents ask council to reject developer’s rezone application

Nearly 70 citizens, mostly Waterford subdivision residents, jammed into the Cartersville City Council’s chambers to voice their opposition to Z15-04, an application to rezone property adjacent to the subdivision from R-20 (residential) to HI (heavy industrial).

At the heart of the matter is 100 acres of undeveloped property at 118 Old Mill Road overlooking the eastern side of the Etowah River adjacent to Waterford. The developer, TPA Group, has proposed building a 1 million-square-foot building on 60 of the 100 acres.

Before the hearing began, Jeff Watkins, attorney for the developer and the landowner, Billy Wright, announced that the group had decided to reduce its request from heavy industrial to light industrial, pointing out that most of the adjoining properties were zoned heavy industrial.  

Attorney Brandon Bowen, representing some of the Waterford landowners, countered that although the applicants promised they would limit themselves to light industrial uses, Cartersville’s zoning ordinances allow manufacturing and processing in a light industrial area and by getting the city to grant a special use permit, it opens up all kinds of possibilities as to what can potentially be done with the property.

Most of the opponents questioned the expected increase in traffic in an already congested area and the noise and light pollution that would be generated by the facility.

“I can hear the traffic on Old Mill already,” said Waterford resident David Hays. “The property sits on a hill, so there is nothing to abate the noise. Can you imagine what it would be like with 500 semi-trucks added to it.”

Hays called into question the revised traffic studies noting they had been done by an engineer for the developer.

“Then there is the matter of the lighting surrounding the facility,” he said. “It would be like living next to a football stadium all night long.”

Watkins rebutted the speakers saying the developer had used a very competent traffic engineer to perform the study.

Several opponents questioned why the developer wanted to build on the site.

Another Waterford resident, Ted Boone, echoed that sentiment.

“There’s 900 acres of undeveloped heavy industrial land available — all this empty warehouse space,” Boone said. “Then you see these signs advertising thousands and thousands of square feet for lease, so why do we need another building and why do we need one right here in this city?”

Simple, Watkins replied, although there are many sites in the county, none can accommodate demands set forth by the developer.

A second public hearing, as required by state law, is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 9 a.m.

In other business, the council:
• Approved changes to the erosion and sediment control ordinance.

• Approved an amendment to the FY 2015 budget ordinance.

• Approved Dec. 3 as the day to swear in newly appointed police chief Frank McCann.

• Approved an application for a $100,000 Water Fund Conservation Grant to be used to replace picnic shelters at Dellinger Park.

• Approved $24,300 to purchase three 24-inch sewer replacements, $6,025 to purchase water main restock and $66,969 for Cogsdale maintenance software.

To accommodate the annual Christmas Parade, Cartersville City Council will meet again on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 9 a.m. at Cartersville City Hall.

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