Members of the Bartow County Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday evening to recommend approval of a rezoning request from an applicant looking to bring a new 189-lot residential development to Hamilton Crossing Road.
One commissioner, Richard Fox, recused himself from voting on the application from North Georgia West Development, LLC. The applicant seeks the rezoning of about 60.5 acres near Highway 293 from A-1 agriculture to R-8 residential.
“The request is to develop a single-family subdivision on the property,” said Bartow County Zoning Administrator Brandon Johnson. “The applicant is proposing 7,000-square-foot lots.”
The developer was represented by local attorney Harry B. White at Monday evening’s public hearing.
“The entrance into the property would be Hamilton Crossing Road off of 293,” he said. “Green space would be on the north and south ends of the property, about 10 acres on the south side, a little bit over five acres on the north side, and approximately an acre-and-a-half up, around where the entrance is into the subdivision.”
White said the developer has plans to build trails into the green space on the western or northern side of the proposed development, with “access to the park from that side of the subdivision.”
Continuing, White said the lot sizes would likely be closer to 7,200 square feet, with about 1,200-1,400 square feet of heated space as the minimum footprint.
“Three-to-four bedrooms, two-and-half baths,” he said. “We feel like these are good-looking homes and more importantly, they are affordable homes for Bartow County families … these are the homes that are selling, there’s a huge market for these types of homes.”
White, however, said he believes Hamilton Crossing Road will likely require infrastructural improvements before the proposed development can take shape.
“It is my understanding that the County and I know the developers are working toward acquiring access to straighten Hamilton Crossing on over to the east side of 293 for safer access,” he said.
North Georgia West Development, LLC representative Wayne Bearden briefly took to the podium at the meeting.
“We’re working toward improvements on Hamilton Crossing, that’s going to be a big issue,” he said. “I think we’ve addressed it in a way that’s actually going to improve that area.”
Bearden said the homes within the proposed subdivision development would likely be priced in the $180,000-$250,000 range.
“We’re also incorporating the lots to do a lot of single-family stuff, so we have some ranch-style homes, because that’s a big market right now,” he said. “Obviously, for younger families, things like that, then the square footage would go up significantly if you stack it and you go to a two-story.”
Commissioner C. Boyd Morris III made a motion to condition the development to incorporate architectural designs shown by the applicant in conceptual renderings. The motion was approved unanimously by the commission members.
Several nearby residents spoke out against the proposed development.
Speaker Charlene Hendrix said she is concerned the development would lead to a possibly unmanageable influx of new students into the local schools.
“Hamilton Crossing has a population right now of 600 kids, their capacity is 700,” she said. “Cass Middle is already passed capacity … I don’t know where we’re going to put these kids. Because if you have 189 houses, that’s almost 400 kids that you’re going to have to find a place to put them.”
Commission member Greg Bowen, a former Bartow County School Board member, weighed in on the school overcrowding concerns.
“There’s also the option to redraw the district line” he said. “When they reach capacity, they keep pushing them, taking the outer edges and moving them to the other schools … I’m sure they’re already looking at where to put [students] and more schools, we all know the County’s going to grow.”
Another speaker, Arnold Harner, said he has worries about the proposed development’s lone entrance and exit dumping out onto Hamilton Crossing Road, which he said is already “overloaded” with traffic.
“Now the proposal is to add another 350-400 cars twice a day onto this road,” he said. “In the 26-plus years that we’ve lived there, we’ve seen no less than 50 accidents, several injuries and at least one fatality — those are just the ones that we’re aware of.”
At the meeting, Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson told residents the local government has considered constructing a new roundabout near the Hamilton Crossing Road/Kingston Highway intersection to address traffic safety issues.
“We think that would be a good realignment,” he said.
Resident Trent Miller, however, said he believes the topography near the proposed development already provides its fair share of challenges for motorists.
“A [roundabout] would do nothing to slow people down as they come over the hill, and then the people behind them wouldn’t slow down,” he said.
He also said he has concerns about increased congestion along Kingston Highway.
“We’re looking at 1,000 homes within a half mile,” he said. “I can’t even imagine how that’s going to look, because I know what the Planters did — we never had any traffic before then.”
Ultimately, White said he believes the concerns over road infrastructure and school capacity circle back to the same issue.
“You’ve got to have ad valorem tax,” he said. “If built out, a $175,000 or $180,000 house, 180 lots, roughly — the arithmetic is about $36 million in ad valorem tax that goes on our tax digest to help pay these improvements.”
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor is set to approve or deny the rezoning request at a public meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center at 135 West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.