Panhandle rezoning defeated

By Justin Boron

The county commission kept in line with the Zoning Advisory Board's recommendation Thursday when it knocked down a developer's request to increase the residential density of a planned subdivision in the panhandle.

The denial of the zoning request comes down on the side of at least 65 panhandle residents who vigorously opposed the rezoning because they said it would over-develop the last semi-rural area of Clayton County.

County Commissioner Gerald Matthews, who represents the panhandle area, made the motion to deny.

"I'm just not ready to (approve the rezoning)," he said.

Blackhawk Development had asked the commission to change its land use plan and zoning for the area to accommodate a 138-acre subdivision with 332 homes on Inman and Woolsey roads.

The move would have relaxed the current zoning, which requires houses to be placed on 1-acre lots.

The developer had proposed an average of 2.42 housing units per acre for the Estates of Victoria Meadows.

But the county commission and advisory board decisions will likely relegate the development to the existing land use plan, unless Blackhawk Development pursues and wins a constitutional challenge of the denial.

Mike Norbeck, a spokesman for Blackhawk Development, has said the possibility of a legal challenge is always open and reminded the commissioners of that Thursday.

The company's owners say a denial of reasonable use of the property "constitutes taking the (property owner's) property without just compensation."

Margie Trawick, who lives on Inman Road and has been one of residents spearheading the homeowners' resistance, said even with the victory, she would not let up.

"I'll still continue the fight as far as I can go with it," she said. "We've got some legitimate things to complain about."

The residents worry that developments like the one proposed by Blackhawk would stretch thin educational and transportation resources while devaluing their property, said Roy Moore, also an Inman Road homeowner.

"It would ruin the very fabric of the neighborhood and possibly lower the property values," he said at Thursday's meeting.

Another battle Trawick faces is the entrance to the subdivsion across the street from her on Inman Road.

She said she would prefer that the entrance be on Woolsey Road.

Along with Trawick, homeowners, whose property ranges anywhere from 4 to 15 acres, have rallied against development in the area, beckoning the help of County Commissioner-elect Wol? Ralph.

Ralph will represent the homeowners when he takes office and said he plans to bring more high-end housing to Clayton County.