Cluster plans spark debate
A developer is seeking a zoning change for a 10-house gated community on Callier Springs Road.
Opposition is expected to be out in force Tuesday when the Floyd County Commission considers a rezoning for a cluster home community on Callier Springs at Mountain View Road.
But either way the board rules, the neighboring property owners are likely to leave dissatisfied.
“A substantial amount of money has been spent engineering this property already. The day after the commission meeting, (the developers are) going to break ground,” said Chuck Hardin, president and co-founder of Southern Engineering Inc.
Hardin represented the owner, H. Howard Alexander Jr. of Howard Realty, at a Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission hearing that drew about a dozen nearby residents to protest the application.
Property values, water pressure and noise were points of concern, but the main issue was the additional traffic on the narrow, winding thoroughfare.
“We have accidents at that corner regularly … usually single vehicles,” said Mery McCorkle. “When we have ice and snow that section is impassable; when we have heavy rain it is treacherous.”
The tract in question is 2.6 vacant acres in a curve where the two roads meet, across from the Callier Springs Country Club. It’s zoned for high-density traditional residential development and is already subdivided into 10 lots.
Hardin said plans are for a gated community of 10 or 11 brick houses with garages, about 1,500 square feet each. With a special use permit for cluster homes, allowed only in multifamily zones, they could align them along an internal road with a single entrance on the smaller Mountain View Road.
“Right now we can build 10 houses with 10 driveways on Callier Springs Road,” Hardin said. “This is safer.”
They’re also planning to extend larger water and sewer lines to the development, which could mean better service for existing property owners. But the proposal remained controversial enough for Planning Commission Chairman Tom Bennett to give each side additional time to talk.
“You can imagine it’s all going to be rental properties,” said Rachael Thompson, who decried the potential loss of woods and wildlife.
Planning commission members sought solutions. They questioned if the entrance could be moved to Callier Springs. The curve would make it more dangerous, Hardin said. They asked if the multifamily zoning could be tied to the cluster homes, to prevent a change to apartments or duplexes. No.
“The zoning goes with the land,” member Logan Boss said. “I’m uncomfortable about allowing a rezoning that could have a deleterious effect if the project we’re approving falls through.”
In the end, the citizen board voted against recommending the rezoning with just Terry Jones supporting the proposal.
“It’s not a question of denying the homes. They have the right to do that,” Jones said. “All we’re discussing is the best design.”
Lost in the final debate was a quiet comment from Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter, who sits in on the monthly meetings.
“They may not be able to get permits for all 10 drives, if there’s a sight-distance issue,” he noted.
The County Commission will hold a public hearing before it makes a decision during its 6 p.m. meeting at the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave.