CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday night to “send a message” to the city of Canton that it was against a developer’s plan to build a gas station at the entrance of a well-populated subdivision on Highway 20 near Canton Marketplace.
The Board of Commissioners was set to vote at its meeting Tuesday night on a request to rezone 3.5 acres at the entrance of the Estates at Brooke Park to build a 3,875-square-foot gas station, but the applicant, Jim Rollins of Peach Consolidated Properties, withdrew the request earlier Tuesday.
The land sits in unincorporated Cherokee County, just outside the Canton city limits.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said during the meeting Tuesday that there was a “rumor” or “speculation” that knowing Cherokee County was opposed to his plans, Rollins might ask the city of Canton to annex the land into the city and then continue with his plans to build the gas station.
In the event that Rollins pursued this possibility, Johnston said he felt it was necessary to make the county’s opposition to a gas station on the site known.
“I think it is important that we ask the city to consider the very same things we’ve considered in this case, mainly that it would be very detrimental to the people in that neighborhood to have a convenience store with gas pumps (at their entrance),” Johnston said.
In spite of Rollins’ wish to withdraw his request from Cherokee County, Johnston said his “inclination” was still to deny the request, to “send a message.”
But County Attorney Angela Davis warned against denying the request to “send a message,” as a denial in a case where the applicant attempted to withdraw a request could lead to a lawsuit. Instead, Davis advised that the board put forth a motion showing their opposition.
Johnston made a motion addressed to the city of Canton, which stated that “in the event that city of Canton annexes the property,” the city considers the county’s position and put restrictions on the land making it so Rollins could not build a gas station there.
The motion passed unanimously — with Chairman Buzz Ahrens absent.
Rollins said Wednesday that despite the rumors, he had not considered annexing the property into Canton, though, “that might be a consideration.”
He said he chose to withdraw his request from Cherokee County because he felt that, like the Cherokee Planning Commission earlier this month, the Board of Commissioners would side with the numerous residents of the Estates at Brooke Park who had spoken out against the proposed gas station and vote against it the request.
Rollins said since the Planning Commission voted against his request, he has been exploring other uses for the land.
He is now in talks with several firms who have showed interest in using the land for medical offices.
“Unfortunately, they’re 24-hour-a-day medical (offices),” he said.
Rollins said residents in the Estates at Brooke Park have told him that they are against 24-hour operations on his site, but medical offices, even operating day and night, are approved under the current zoning.
Rollins added that he did not feel the county’s opposition against the gas station was warranted.
“I don’t think my getting turned down was a development or business decision,” he said. “I think it was politics, and I understand politics.”
During the Board of Commissioners meeting, the board also:
• Discussed reducing impact fees for roads charged to new development locating to the county by 90 percent.
Cherokee County charges the fees to new development moving into the county to account for the impact on existing county infrastructure and services. Commissioners discussed that the reduction in impact fees for roads could encourage new project to come into Cherokee. The board will hold another hearing on the topic at its meeting July 16.
• Unanimously approved the purchase of a pull-behind trailer for refilling firefighter air supplies in the amount of $55,967 from Breathing Air Systems.
• Unanimously approved a grant for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit Drug Accountability Court in the amount of $141,831.
• Voted unanimously to continue receiving a Victims of Crime Act grant in the amount of $87,397 with a required match amount from the county of $21,849.
• Unanimously approved a right-of-way easement for Sawnee EMC to install and maintain electrical wires for lighting under Badger Creek Park.
• Voted unanimously to accept $229,891in grant funds from the Georgia Urban County Consortium. The board voted to issue $48,399 of this grant to the county’s community housing development organization and North Georgia Community Housing Development Corporation for the development of affordable housing.
• Unanimously approved the acceptance of a $103,819 grant given to the county to establish a mental health court.