At the Monday, June 13, meeting of the Sugar Hill City Council, retiring North Gwinnett Middle School principal Wanda Law was honored for her service to the youth of the community.

Council member Marc Cohen read a proclamation on behalf of the city that acknowledges and congratulates her on “her accomplishments as one of the country’s finest educational leaders; and wish her well as she begins a new chapter of her life.”

The proclamation went on to name June 13 as Wanda Law Day in the city of Sugar Hill for her 33 years dedicated to the education of Gwinnett County’s youth. Law started her career as a math teacher at Lilburn Middle School  and Creekland Middle School. She was an assistant principal at Lanier MIddle and Jones Middle, then served as principal at Sycamore Elementary. Law became the first principal of North Gwinnett Middle School and served there for the past 13 years before announcing her retirement. 

She will pass on the reins of North Gwinnett Middle School to Sheri Gilbert, who most recently served as an assistant principal of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

Cohen presented Law with the proclamation and a gift from the city of Sugar Hill. Mayor Brandon Hembree and the council congratulated Law and took a photo op.

The council meeting proceeded with hearings on several items on the agenda, including the most hotly debated item, a rezoning request for 10.1 acres at Nelson Brogdon Boulevard and Old Cumming Highway. The property is within the Town Center Overlay district with the zoning of Office Institutional (OI), low density single-family residential (RS150), medium density single-family residential (RS100), and the applicant requested a rezoning to medium density mixed residential (RS36) to allow for 81 single-family attached homes.

Hembree opened the public hearing first to anyone wishing to speak in favor of the proposed development. Earl Roberts, the owner of 1.26 acres on Nelson Brogdon Boulevard who is one of the landowners agreeing to sell their land to SDH Atlanta LLC spoke in favor of the rezoning request. The developer also spoke in favor of the request.

The opposition speakers included several homeowners in the neighboring subdivision The Springs. Andrew Schulz was the first to speak and he talked about the beauty of the forest on the property that would be clear cut to make way for the development. He wants conservation instead of clear cutting due to the age of the trees. Schulz claims there are rare Lady Slipper plants on the property that are protected by law. 

Homeowner Lee Grisko voiced concerns about the elevation of the proposed development, saying the current hill behind his property would be clear cut, taking down the natural shade provided by the tree canopy, and then the elevation would be raised several additional feet. He claims he would be staring at the foundations of a four-unit building that would tower over his home.     

Mayor Pro-Tem Taylor Anderson wanted to make a traffic signal study mandatory as part of the conditions due to the number of concerns voiced over the already heavy traffic along Nelson Brogdon Boulevard.

Council member Cohen asked planning director Kaipo Awana if there was a possibility of adding another entrance to the proposed development to help ease traffic congestion.

Council member Mason Roszel asked Awana if there was another development he could recall where a larger natural buffer was mandatory and if there could be more preservation of green space in light of Schulz’s concerns. Awana could not recall a development that had that happen.

Council member Alvin Hicks asked at what price point it would take for an entry level homeowner to be able to buy their first home.

Due to the number of questions asked by the council and the concerns of the opposition, a motion to table the rezoning request was made by Cohen. The council unanimously voted to table the request to give the developer and the planning department a chance to respond to the questions.

In other business, the council voted to approve a rezoning request by Can Wang for 4.7 acres at 467 Buford Highway to allow for 37 single-family attached homes, which breaks down to 7.84 units per acre. There was no one present to speak in opposition of the development, which sits in the North Gwinnett school cluster.

A request to rezone 27.724 acres on Sycamore Road to allow for 77 single-family detached homes that would be a rental community did not pass. Instead, Cohen made a motion to withdraw the proposal without prejudice, and that motion passed with a vote of three in favor and two against. This gives the applicant a chance to apply for the rezoning again in the future.

The next Sugar Hill City Council meeting will be held on Monday, July 11, at city hall.

FEATURED PHOTO: Retired North Gwinnett Middle School principal Wanda Law, along with her husband and daughter, are joined by, from left to right, Mayor Pro-Tem Taylor Anderson, council member Alvin Hicks, council member Mason Roszel, council member Marc Cohen, council member Jennifer Thatcher and Mayor Brandon Hembree. Photo courtesy of the city of Sugar Hill.

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