Sugar Hill approves design contract for EpiCenter project

Sugar Hill continued its downtown development efforts Monday by approving a deal to design a new downtown project.

At its April meeting, City Council allocated $197,500 for the design phase of EpiCenter, a multi-use work/play development planned for West Broad Street near City Hall. The $30 million effort is targeted for completion in 2016.

Officials from Precision Planning in Lawrenceville gave the mayor and council a slide-show presentation of some phases of EpiCenter. Plans call for about 27,000 square feet of retail and office space, a rooftop bar, a theater, and parking.

In other action Monday, council members:

• Approved a variance that will allow a homeowner in the Roberts Landing subdivision to build a swimming pool, concrete deck and wooden fence near a stream at the rear of his property. His home is near the Ruby Forest subdivision.

Council approval came over a recommendation of denial by Planning and Zoning staff. According to city documents, staff felt that the city ordinance protecting stream buffers would be compromised by the pool project.

“It could flood; there could be some runoff,” Planning Director Kaipo Awana told council members.

However, Planning and Zoning officials gave council members two conditions that would make approval of the project acceptable.

Also, Council Member Marc Cohen added language that mandated that the planning director have authority to “to reorient the pool and deck to minimize the impact to the stream.”

“I just want to make sure not to disturb the stream buffer and increase water runoff,” Cohen explained.

Steve Arnold, the homeowner who plans to build the pool project, says the effort will cost $25,000 to $30,000. It could be ready in 4-6 weeks.

• OKed a new alcoholic-beverage ordinance. The new measure will allow businesses greater leeway to sell distilled spirits. Also, businesses now can expand events from patios to parking lots. However, it limits the number of times events can be held, and the lengths of events.

• Approved rezoning that will allow the owner of Sugar Hill Animal Hospital on Cumming Highway to use the parcel next door for parking.

Also Monday, officials announced that:

• 46 new home permits were issued in the first quarter of 2015, up from 36 in the same period in 2014;

• Reeves Contracting of Sugar Hill has been awarded the contract for the Suwanee Dam Road Intersections Project. Start date is June 1.