Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smoke Signals: Dawsonville okays AMP rezoning; Hamryka’s vow to fight on, pursue legal action

Dawsonville okays AMP rezoning

Hamryka’s vow to fight on, pursue legal action By Barbara Schneider


Fifteen minutes into its Monday night meeting, the Dawsonville City Council unanimously approved rezoning 152 acres along Duck Thurmond Road for the proposed Atlanta Motorsports Park.

The Council’s vote will reclassify a portion of 1,500 acres currently owned by the Elliot family along Duck Thurmond Road near Hwy 53 from residential 1 to CIR (restricted industrial district). Before the vote, Steve Holder, Dawsonville’s Planning Director, read 22 stipulations the Council attached to the proposal. When constructed, AMP will be about four miles from Big Canoe’s north gate.

Old business

The zoning change, listed as old business on the Council’s April 13 agenda, comes after months of public meetings, protests from Citizens4 Dawson and concerned neighbors, and a slick PR campaign from AMP developer Jeremy Porter.

As soon as Mayor Joe Lane Cox announced the rezoning was approved -- and while scattered boos and cheers erupted from opposing sides in the crowded council chamber -- AMP’s PR people handed the media a two-page press release beginning with a “We could not have received better news. I am ecstatic,” quote from developer Porter. The release listed “strategic partners and contractors who had already been selected “in anticipation of the [rezoning] approval.”

Opposes AMP

Meeting with the media after the vote, Wes(t) Hamryka, who owns a 70-acre horse farm directly across Duck Thurmond Road from the proposed motorsports park, vowed to continue the fight. “It’s what we expected at this stage,” he said when asked about the council’s vote to approve rezoning. “We are prepared to take this to the next legal step.”

When asked by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter why he would be willing to spend possibly a hundred thousand dollars to fight the city, Hamryka replied, “The Council only voted to change zoning on one property but the precedent is set for the next developer who comes in.” The City, he said, basically threw out the land use plan approved last year. He is prepared to sue the City of Dawsonville for improper spot zoning and willing to take the City through protracted legal battle.