GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – With concerns over traffic and access from both cities, the Gilmer Board of Commissioners worked in conditions to an approval for a zoning change to R-5 Residential Multi-Family High Density Re-Zoning in the area of Progress Road and Coosawattee Drive.
Coosawattee Drive is the road where Ronnie Thompson Ford sits, the road connects Progress Road to Highway 515, Mountain View Drive comes off of Coosawattee Drive and has the Best Western and Appalachian Beverage before intersecting Highway 515. All three roads are important as the development sits between the three roads. Discussiong also arose for multiple access points connecting to at least two of the three roads.
The development, known as Gilmer Village, is expected to house up to 100 units for single family homes and townhomes.
Taking into account both cities concerns, and with input from Jim Smith, the county’s new Planning and Zoning Director who was still Public Works Director at the time, the largest issue that brought the three entities together was road access and maintenance. While the county has jurisdiction on the land and, therefore, the zoning, the cities own the surrounding roads. With Progress Road lying in the city of Ellijay and Mountain View Drive in the city of East Ellijay.
This means that while the county does make the ultimate decision for the zoning, it is up to the cities to grant road access and to carry the burden and maintenance on those roads from the extra traffic and the safety of potential foot traffic.
With East Ellijay adamantly opposed to Mountain View Drive access, Ellijay’s concerns rested on improvements being made.
Within the county, Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson stated that this location was prime for this type of development. She spoke on the accessibility of water and sewer as well as its location among the higher density areas. Her only concern was the length of rentals as she requested an additional condition to prohibit short term rentals which eventually became restated as rentals under 90 days.
A recent traffic study in the area also suggested right turn lanes on Coosawattee Drive at both ends, according to Smith, in order to aid in turns onto Highway 515 and Progress Road.
With most of the attention on Mountain View Drive and East Ellijay’s stance against access to the road, alternatives were presented with multiple access points on Progress Road or connecting a access onto Coosawattee Drive. Thus, conditions were eventually set on the re-zoning. Originally, the motion required two entrances with one on Mountain View and one on Progress, but that was later amended.
In final form, the motion was approved with conditions to include two entrances connected to “one or more public roads” and the developer funding right turn lane upgrades on Coosawattee Drive as pointed out in the traffic study.
In addition, the development could host even more changes as Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson discussed studies about a potential traffic light at the intersection of Highway 515 and the two side roads of Mountain View Drive on one side and Highland Crossing on the other. While this isn’t pressing, Ferguson noted that the increase in traffic could help sway the Department of Transportation in putting one there.