Second readings, council votes on both applications scheduled for Dec. 5

Cartersville City Council hears first reading for proposed townhomes, medical sterilization facility

Members of the Cartersville City Council heard the first readings of — but took no actions on — two proposed developments at Thursday evening’s public meeting. 

On the docket first was a request from applicant Tri Unity Holdings, LLC to rezone 8.52 acres along North Tennessee Street from general-commercial/office-commercial to general-commercial/mixed-use. 

Tri Unity Holdings, LLC representative Baha Kharazmi applied for a special use permit last year to construct a much larger mixed-use project at the same location. Initially, Kharazmi sought to bring a 55,000-square-foot development to the intersection of Felton Road and Tennessee Street, with restaurants, retailers and approximately 129 residential units.

“We have really reduced it and made it simple, 37 three-bedroom townhomes,” he said at last week’s public meeting. “And we are going to try to see if we can get some master-on-main units, we may even reduce the number of the townhouses to be able to achieve that.”

Cartersville City Planner David Hardegree said the reduced scope of what was once described as the “Felton Walk” project comes with a much smaller office/retail footprint. At a City of Cartersville Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, he said the applicant has scaled back projections from roughly 30,000 square feet to less than 7,000 square feet of such product.

The new plan for the parcels at 1136 and 1138 North Tennessee St., Kharazmi said, is to build the residential component first and then wrap the commercial elements around it.

“We have gone back to the bankers and investors, this is OK,” he said. “If we have to do two buildings at a time out of pocket this time, we’re able to do it, so this will get done.”

He estimates that the townhomes will be priced in the low $200,000s. All of the units will have rear-entry garages, he said, adding that only the commercial building upfront would be for rent. 

The new concept plan indicates the project would consist of 55 parking spaces, with a possibility to add 12 more near a reconfigured Tennessee Street access point. 

“Since we have designed a lot of parking for guests, I don’t anticipate any street-parking,” Kharazmi said. “Besides, we will have additional parking as you see in the retail area.”

Having worked mostly with commercial developments, Kharazmi told council members that this was his first shot at a townhome product.

“It’s not a step down as far as the quality of finishes inside and outside,” he said. “We would have liked to do better, but I hear the market is best for $200,000 townhomes. Interior-wise, we’re going to do as good a finish as we had planned before, and exterior-wise, they’re going to look nice.”

Hardegree told council members he was “a little confused” as to why the planning commission opposed the proposal. 

“There were several topics of discussion — I can tell you that they did talk about the recreation needs for three-and-four bedroom townhomes that wasn’t represented on the plan,” he said. “They did talk about managing rental vs. home occupied units and they kept referencing issues with the Mountain Chase development now that’s ongoing.”

If council ultimately rejects the zoning proposal, Hardegree said the property could revert back to the mixed-use designation under a previously-approved special use permit.

“It’s currently zoned office-commercial back there, it could go back to all office-commercial uses, as well,” he said. 

A second reading of the rezoning proposal is slated for a Dec. 5 council meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m. at 10 North Public Square.

The council also heard the first reading of a special use permit request for a waste transfer station at 375 Industrial Park Road.

Applicant Regulated Services, LLC seeks to construct “a treatment facility that sterilizes medical waste” at the property off Peeples Valley Road, which is currently zoned H-I heavy industrial.

“A core component of the business is for medical waste disposal,” Hardegree said. “The site plan that they presented to us has four buildings on there — currently onsite, there’s two buildings.”

The Atlanta-based applicant also seeks to construct an 8,000-square foot building and a 10,800-square foot building on the property, “to address sterilization, shredding, storage and transport of the treated waste.”

Documents submitted to the City of Cartersville also indicate the applicant wants to convert the existing buildings on the site into a document shredding center and an office space “with a secure pharmaceutical storage area.”

Brandon Bowen, the applicant’s legal representative, was quick to distance the proposal from the Sterigenics controversy in Cobb and Newton counties.

Whereas that company utilizes a chemical process to sterilize medical equipment, he said Regulated Services, LLC instead looks to use an autoclave device, which he said is analogous to “pressure cooker technology.”

“It is simply making the waste very hot, at well over 200 degrees for quite a while — over 30 minutes, at high pressure,” he said. “And when it comes out of that process, it goes through a shredder, which reduces its size by about 65%, so it can take up less of the landfill.”

At a City of Cartersville Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, applicant representatives indicated the customers for the trash transfer station would primarily consist of “regional” clients, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, research labs and private practices. 

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) would regulate the collection and transportation of materials to and from the facility. The proposed station would also require approval from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the state boards of pharmacy and narcotics before operations could begin. 

Applicant representatives said the truck volume at the facility is likely to start around 30 trucks a day and eventually increase to about 150 daily. At full buildout, Regulated Services, LLC anticipates the project bringing 25-30 jobs to the community. 

At least one resident, Jacquelyn Voyles, said she had concerns about the site housing pharmaceuticals. 

“In the middle of an opioid crisis, we’re going to have drugs stored in our community?” she said. 

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini weighed in on the potential environmental impacts of the project at Thursday’s meeting.

“I don’t know where they’re taking their waste, but I do know they had a conversation with the commissioner,” he said. “And if there was any concerns on the part of the Bartow County landfill with handling that waste that was processed, they looked at it and they had no issues.” 

A second reading of the special use permit application, and a potential council vote on the matter, is scheduled for a public meeting at 10 North Public Square at 9 a.m. on Dec. 5.