Plat without border

Another attempt for mixed-use development on former college land

By Denise Ray
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A new application has been filed for the land where the Etowah Village Development had been proposed. The proposal will be heard at the Dawson County Planning Commission meeting on September 17 at 6 p.m.

Landowner Lumpkin Campground Road, LLC, filed a new application to rezone the former location of Southern Catholic College for mixed-use development “in order to build a Master Planned Community on 518 acres bordered on the east by Ga. Hwy. 400 and Lumpkin Campground Road and on the west by the Etowah River.”

Based upon the Southern Catholic College Master Plan, the current zoning allows retail, office, multi-family, and single-family residences. Proposed alterations would be the arrangement of these uses with the addition of parcels “to create a viable alternative use for this tract that will become an asset to Dawson County.”

According to the application, the project would include 338,000 sq. ft. of retail and service space designed in the same style as the Avalon project in Alpharetta with second- and third-floor residential spaces; 243,200 sq. ft. of Class A office space with buildings up to 10 stories; a hotel with a convention center; 770 units of multi-family residences; 254 units of single-family attached home residences; a 350-unit continuing care retirement community with both independent and assisted living; 265 single family homes divided into three separate neighborhoods; 156 acres of parks and green spaces; and a site dedicated to a future fire station.

The proposed retail village will contain shopping, offices, and restaurants that will be integrated into the residential neighborhoods providing a walkable and sustainable live-work-play community. It is expected to serve the surrounding area and become a sister-destination to the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall, expanding the shopping visitor’s experience in Dawson County, according to the application.

Additionally, the hotel, conference center and fine dining restaurants will provide a “much-needed overnight option for out-of-state and international tourists visiting the outlet mall. Maximizing the stay and experience of tourists maximizes the income for Dawson County,” the application stated.

The proposed site will include pocket parks and sidewalks that will be integrated throughout the master-planned community, creating a pedestrian-friendly environment and providing social gathering areas for the residents.

“By decreasing the size of lots, we increased open space. We are preserving a remarkable 156 acres of open space,” reads the application. “This land will be utilized to create large usable and meaningful green areas that can realistically sustain wildlife habitats and be enjoyed by the entire community.”

In July commissioners voted to accept the withdrawal of a re-zoning of the property requested by Jim King, representing Dawson Village Partners when one of the primary investors decided not to proceed with the development.

At its June meeting, the commissioners voted to table the application once again after changes were made to the application that included the removal of parcels west of the Etowah River and changes to the entrance on Hwy. 53. Due to the July 4 holiday, the vote was re-set for the July 18 voting session.

The original request was tabled in May after county commissioners heard concerns that included flood plain issues near the area close to the Etowah River, a bridge that may or may not be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, endangered species living near or in the river and Cherokee Indian mounds and burial grounds, which are protected at both state and federal levels. Insufficient police protection was another concern at that time. The request was then scheduled for June.

Land west of the Etowah River and Chinese gardens are not indicated in this latest application.

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