Before a standing-room-only crowd that broke out in applause several times following comments in opposition, the Senoia City Council unanimously approved the conceptual plans for Senoia’s second-largest subdivision.
The approval of the conceptual plat for the 356-unit Keg Creek Landing development is contingent upon the results of a traffic study and an engineering study that are being done on the project.
That means that the developer, Brent Holdings, will have to fulfill any requirements that the studies deem necessary to support the development – such as road improvements.
“Safety is paramount to us,” said Councilman Chuck Eichorst.
Richard Ferry, former city manager who now works for Brent Holdings, said the traffic study has already been ordered and could be done by the end of the month.
Brent Holdings has already agreed to do some improvements to the intersection of Seavy Street and Ga. Hwy. 85, and to donate 29 acres on Hwy. 85 to the city as a possible site for the future sewer plant. The site is not the most desirable, and the city currently considers it an alternate site if a better one cannot be obtained.
The intersection improvement would make the intersection a 90-degree T intersection, but would not change the location of the intersection or affect the site distance. There would be a left turn lane and a deceleration lane.
Under the city’s R-40 Conservation Subdivision zoning, there can be a density of 0.9 homes per acre. The developers will get a “density bonus” for the intersection work and land donation, bringing the total density to 1.44 units per acre. The density bonus results in 133 additional homes in the subdivision over the 223 that would be allowed without a bonus.
A large crowd turned out to Monday’s city council meeting. Many attendees had to park along Howard Road because the parking lot was full.
Several speakers told the council that the proposed density is much too high.
“I don’t think there should be a density bonus unless the developers pay for widening, cart paths, and sidewalks,” said Karen Allen. “I really recommend you don’t vote on this until you have received the traffic study.”
Allen also took issue with the council’s statement that the donated land has a value of $600,000.
Residents of the Stone Bridge subdivision on Hwy. 85 expressed concerns about traffic as well as the smell from a sewer plant.
“I don’t want a sewer plant there. I don’t want to smell that 24 hours a day,” said Barry Baney.
Cindy Divido and Paulette Skantz gave the council a petition asking that Johnson Street become a dead end with a cul-de-sac at its intersection with Seavy Street so that Johnson Street residents won’t get cut through traffic from the subdivision.
Johnson Street is narrow – not even wide enough for a large truck and a small car to pass each other, she said.
The police can’t write tickets for speeding on Johnson because of the grade of the hill, Skantz said. And speeding is horrendous.
Lu Nations-Miller’s property is surrounded by the proposed subdivision, and the driveway she has used since the 1970s is actually shown as being on the developer’s land.
She questioned how a plat could be approved without that being corrected. She had previously said that the developers planned to build her a new driveway.
Nations-Miller questioned whether the revenue from the new residents would be enough to cover the additional cost to the city.
“Remember – planning and zoning voted this down,” she said.
Claudia Wood said she is delighted to see the new growth in downtown through infill and she isn’t against growth and development. But this project is too dense.
Several years ago, a senior citizen apartment complex was proposed for the property that is now the Marimac Lakes park. The council decided not to approve that project, and later the city bought the property.
“Had the city not been brave enough to say, ‘No, this is not right for the city,” we wouldn’t have that park today,” Wood said. “I ask you, too, for this city council to be brave and do the right thing for the city.”
Shane Olsen said he just moved to Senoia in August from Dallas. “I can see where irresponsible growth affects your quality of life – hence why I am here.”
Most of the people at the meeting didn’t live in Senoia before the year 2000, said Councilman Jeff Fisher. He said his parents started visiting in the late ‘80s.
“I understand what you’re talking about,” Fisher said. Senoia’s first subdivision, Willow Dell, was vehemently opposed.
“People said high density and high traffic volume would change the character of our city,” Fisher said. There were similar complaints about Twin Lakes, Ivy Ride, and Morningside. When Heritage Pointe, with 600 homes, was proposed, Fisher spoke out against it. “I was wrong,” he said.
“It is the same argument from all of these subdivisions that is being used now for this one,” Fisher said. “I’m not saying you’re wrong,” he said. But look around – look at your neighbors, the people you go to church with, the people who serve on city boards.
“These people live in these subdivisions. They have contributed to our community, invested in our community. These subdivisions are thriving. They are not the hindrance that was expressed at the podium then,” Fisher said.
“This subdivision is not going to be any different.”