Sharpsburg approves Oakhall Village annexation

It was about the biggest thing to hit Sharpsburg, ever. The Sharpsburg Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to approve annexation and rezoning requests for a Planned Community Development (PCD) of more than 109 acres that would lead to 128,000 square feet of commercial and office space and 148 residential units just southwest of Ga. Highway 16 and Ga. Highway 54.

“We see this as being a live, work, shop, dine and play development,” project representative Dennis Drewyer said at the outset of the public hearing, describing Oakhall Village as a high-quality, mixed-use village with significant interconnectivity and easy access throughout.

The Oakhall Village retail and office component will include 55.15 acres and feature 87,000 square feet of commercial space and 41,000 square feet of office/institutional space.

The retail portion of the request included proposals for a 45,000 square-foot grocery store, 28,000 square feet of shops, a dine-in restaurant at 6,000 square feet, a fast food business at 4,000 square feet and a gasoline/convenience store at 4,000 square feet.

Also included in the commercial component are 10,000 square feet of medical office space, a 6,000 square-foot bank, a 6,000 square-foot day care/pre-school building, a 16,000 square-foot assisted living center, a 12-acre athletic complex with ball fields and a 3.2-acre park. Drewyer said that once constructed, the ball fields and park areas will be deeded to the town.

The entire commercial component would include 875 parking spaces.

The 109-acre property is owned by Thompson and Charlotte Lewis.

Drewyer after the meeting said the process of lining up tenants for the commercial development and going through the permitting process could easily take a year to complete prior to any construction.

The 54.2-acre residential component will be situated to the southwest of the commercial development and connected to it by a “boulevard” type roadway.

The residential portion is proposed to include 46 craftsman village homes, 42 attached villas with garages and 60 condominium units targeting seniors, said Drewyer.

Drewyer said that, given current economic conditions, the residential portion of the development may be several years away. That said, Drewyer said he expected the homes to range in price from $180,000-400,000.

As a whole, the development will have 25-30 percent greenspace, Drewyer said.

Prior to the vote council members conducted a public hearing on the annexation and rezoning requests.

It was during the public hearing that several of the many in attendance spoke in opposition to the development. A number of those were from the Clearwater Lake residential development southwest of the Oakhall Village location.

Among the concerns referenced were the increases in traffic, the proposed residential density and, especially, the concern for the decentralized sewer system planned for the development.

Clearwater Lake resident Jim Gillespie covered most of those concerns, asking Drewyer to define what was meant by multi-family housing. Drewyer said that reference was to quadri-plexes for seniors, adding that there would be no apartments or Section 8 housing.

Commenting on what a number of residents saw as a likely increase in the growing traffic flow in the area, Drewyer said much of that traffic is already passing through the area. The idea, said Drewyer, is to have some of those people stop at Oakhall Village to eat out or do grocery shopping in Sharpsburg rather than continuing on to another location for those purposes.

Perhaps as much as any concern shared by those opposed to the development was the question of the decentralized sewer system and a potential wastewater release down gradient to Clearwater Lake.

“This will be the first time you ever had protection (from runoff),” Drewyer said in response.

Concerns over the sewer system appeared to be quelled for many when Newnan Utilities General Manager Dennis McEntire gave a detailed explanation of the system and the safeguards built into it.

“Newnan Utilities will be in complete control of the system,” McEntire said.

Though the developer provides the funding, McEntire said Newnan Utilities would design and manage the system and provide frequent inspections.

“We’re putting our name on this, so we’ll make sure this system is run the way it’s supposed to,” McEntire said, adding that the company currently operates several other decentralized systems and that none had experienced failures.

Sharpsburg had a 2010 estimated population of fewer than 350 residents and, for a town its size, a relatively small number of businesses. Mayor Wendell Staley after the meeting commented on the impact of Oakhall Village would bring.

“It will be astronomical,” Staley said.

Aside from increasing the town’s size geographically by approximately 25 percent and potentially doubling the town’s population once the future residential build-out is complete, the addition of the various businesses in the commercial component will bring revenue from property taxes, fees and permits and those businesses will bring jobs to the community.

“And it could potentially, significantly reduce the millage rate,” said Staley.

The Coweta County Commission recently voted not to oppose the annexation.

The original proposal, a larger project that came before the commission in late 2009 and referred to as Neely Pond, included 55 acres of commercial and 131 acres of residential. Commissioners at that time unanimously denied the rezoning request.