Future of Stonecrest townhome project in jeopardy after resident pushback

This is a rendering of a townhome project that could come to Stonecrest.

Credit: City of Stonecrest

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This is a rendering of a townhome project that could come to Stonecrest.

Credit: City of Stonecrest

Dozens of new townhomes might not come to Stonecrest after residents banded together to voice their disapproval.

Apex Land Company pitched a 76-townhome project to the city’s planning commission Tuesday, but roughly 10 neighbors spoke against the proposal. The townhomes would transform a 9.6-acre plot along Panola and Thompson Mill roads.

One of the parcels that make up the property is zoned for a shopping center that never came to fruition. Attorney Michele Battle, who represents the Alpharetta-based developer, said no work has been done at the site since it was last rezoned in 2008, implying there isn’t any market support for a retail center in that area of Stonecrest.

“Sure it would have been nice to have that (shopping center) get developed, but it didn’t get developed,” Battle said during Tuesday’s meeting. “The land owners along this strip have been trying to sell these properties for quite some time and what they’ve found is this (townhome) offer is the best offer they’ve found.”

Residents aren’t pleased with the pivot. They’d rather see restaurants, shops or greenspace than a residential project that they said won’t immediately benefit them.

“If the owners want to develop, let them do it under the current zoning,” Harold and Patricia Smith wrote the commission.

The townhome project would consist of two- to three-bedroom units that vary between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. The buildings will be two stories tall and include a garage. Battle said the townhomes will likely sell in the upper $200,000s.

“Some of the things that allow commercial development to come into a community is seeing new development come in from a residential context, particularly at a higher price point,” Battle said.

Residents worried the project wouldn’t be upscale enough to attract residents who might spur developers to bring retail and restaurants to their area. Resident Faye Coffield criticized the developer for not making it a gated community and not including many amenities, such as a clubhouse or pool.

“We should stop just taking whatever anybody brings to us and start looking at what is best for the community,” Coffield said. “This is not best for the community.”

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Battle said the townhome project would generate roughly half as much traffic as the proposed 25,000-square foot shopping center that never got off the ground. The project was going to include more than 90 townhomes before the developer heard residents’ concerns, but both residents and members of the planning commission remain worried about density and traffic.

“If you have ever, ever been on Thompson Mill Road at 2:30 p.m., you would see traffic like you’ve never seen before,” Commissioner Joyce Walker said.

Walker and the other commissioners asked the developer to consider conducting a traffic study, and Battle said she’d mention that to her client.

“We have done everything we can to show that this will be a quality community,” she said.

City planning staff back the project with the contingency that the developer create a mandatory home owners association for the community. The planning commission, which makes zoning recommendations to the Stonecrest City Council, decided to take more time before making a decision. They voted 4-1 to table it until a later meeting, with Commissioner Cheryl Moore-Mathis being the lone dissenter.

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