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Watermarke Church Gets Nod From Woodstock

The Woodstock City Council on Monday unanimously approved a conditional use permit and several variance requests from the church.

A Canton church is another step closer to opening a new facility in Woodstock. 

The Woodstock City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit and several variance requests from Northpoint Ministries in relation to their plans to build a new facility on 32.5 acres in the Ridgewalk area. Council woman Liz Baxter was not present. 

The land is currently zoned new community town center and the permit would allow for religious services on the property, which is situated on the south side of Ridgewalk Parkway between Ridge Trail and Georgia Northeastern Railroad tracks.

Northpoint Ministries, the developer and affiliate of Watermarke Church, plans to build 250,000 square feet of buildings, which would include about 2,400 parking spaces. 

The company was also granted variances from the city's form-based code, which would accommodate their plans for the property.

Some of the variances include allowing its buildings to be attached to single story, climate controlled hallway, allow for a 700-ft. wide parking lot along Ridgewalk Parkway and to allow the installation of a bike rack to accommodate up to 30 bikes.

The company also agreed to install an undisturbed 50-foot buffer on the south side of the property where it abuts the Whitfield at Ridgewalk subdivision.  

Parks Huff, attorney representing Northpoint Ministries, noted the company is well aware of how much traffic its services will bring to the area.

"They are very knowledgeable with how to handle traffic," he said, adding most of the impact will be on Sunday morning. 

Huff also noted the company has agreed to help fund the widening of Ridgewalk Parkway between Ridge Trail and Main Street.

City Manager Jeff Moon said contributing money towards the widening was part of a condition of zoning imposed in 2008 when a developer proposed building an apartment complex on the same site.

Moon said the city, Cherokee County and Horizon Group Properties, the developer of the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, have agreed to fund the widening of Ridgewalk Parkway between I-575 and Ridge Trail. 

The proposal to build a new church was required to go through the Developments of Regional Impact review process by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. 

Developments of Regional Impact are described as large-scale projects that would have ripple effects beyond the jurisdictional boundaries in which they reside. 

DCA's process requires each of these developments to be reviewed by the regional commission district it falls in, which in this case would be the Atlanta Regional Commission. The process also calls for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority to review the project's scope.

The city submitted the project on behalf of the company in September and the department last month deemed the project to be in the best interest of the region. 

One resident Jayne Hagan, who lives in the Whitfield at Ridgewalk neighborhood, said she and her neighbors are "okay" with the plans, adding they'd rather have a church in the location than another set of apartments.

"It wouldn’t have been fun as a homeowner to have 2 sets of apartments in front of us," she said. 

In other business, the council also: 

-recognized employees for reaching years of services: 

  • Five years: Tracie Barnes, Joshua Dinsmore, Walter Franco, William Goggans, Donald Grant, Stephen Huffman, Jarred Jackson, Joan Morgan, William Russell, Keith Smith
  • 10 years: Alan Anderson, Kevin Culpepper, Ben Daniel, Aaron Freeman, Mark Hand, Audrey Porter, Dan Schuchman
  • 15 years: Richard Painter, Jeremy Parker
  • 20 years: Jackie Byers, Larry Thomas

-Appointed City Manager Jeff Moon to sit on the Cherokee County Development Authority; Moon takes the place of Billy Peppers, who resigned his position last month to take a job with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

-Moon informed the council he executed a consent agreement with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for a violation that happened at the city's Waste Water Treatment Plant in August. The city was fined $250 for the violation. 

-Moon also told the council he received 51 applications for the community development director position the city has advertised for. He noted he will do 11 interviews this week and will do the second round of interviews after the holidays. He noted he still hasn't advertised the position vacant due to the resignation of Billy Peppers due to the timing of the year.

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