Hardeman store seeks rezoning

Heads to council Feb. 20

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MILTON, Ga. – The city’s first official historically zoned property is one step closer to reality after it passed the Planning Commission 5-2 at their Jan. 22 meeting. It will next be heard by City Council at their Feb. 20 meeting.

The former Hardeman Country Store on Hopewell Road was a gas station and store serving central Milton in the 1950s. The store building still remains standing.

The owners of the property asked that the half-acre lot be rezoned from agricultural to historic and to allow them to have a business there.

In seeking the historic zoning, the building would be restricted to serving uses similar to its original use – that is, a general store.

“Typically, a store in that area would not be allowed, however the historic zoning allows and requires the property to be used as it was historically,” said Milton Community Development Director Kathleen Field.

The 1,179-square-foot store would have five parking spaces.

Resident Jody Martin was opposed to the rezoning.

“I feel like we’re trying to cram something in on a site that’s not big enough,” she said. “We’re trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

She added the traffic study on Dec. 17 was poorly done, being when school is on holiday.

“I’m not interested in seeing commercial prop from my front door,” she said.

Because the building is designated historic, the landowner is restricted in how he can use the building.

“We’re trying to find a compatible use for the building,” said Deborah Anthony, general counsel for Reunion. “We’re trying to find the least intrusive of all uses.”

Of particular concern to the commission and some residents was the inclusion of uses for delicatessen, carry out and catering. These were not original uses, said Commissioner Fred Edwards.

“I get delivery; I’m sure a general store had some delivery. But I don’t know of any [general] store with catering or carry out,” Edwards said.

Anthony was unable to give specifics about the uses of any occupant of the store, because a buyer is not yet lined up.

She said she and the landowner, David Chatham, were only seeking a rezoning; they have no idea what kind of buyer could use the site. City staff admitted it could be as different as a true general store or a pizza delivery store.

“You have no idea what the impact to the community would be,” said Commissioner Paul Moore. “You’re giving speculative answers, shoving it off on third party.”

In his motion to approve the zoning, Commission Chairman George Ragsdale removed the approved use for the delicatessen, carry out and catering, saying no food could be prepared on the premises.

The motion was approved 5-2, with Moore and Edwards voting against it. The rezoning now goes before the City Council at their Feb. 20 meeting.