SUBSCRIBE NOW

Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

Subdivision rezoning raises questions about commercial development in Granite Shoals

attorney Jeff Kelly

Sterling Creek Builders representative and attorney Jeff Kelly addresses the Granite Shoals City Council on Dec. 14, asking for a change to a zoning ordinance for the incoming high-end development Granite Pointe. The rezoning removes all commercial property plans. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council voted to approve a zoning change for the incoming Granite Pointe subdivision during its regular meeting Dec. 14. The original approved plans for the new subdivision included commercial zoning for a marina, restaurants, and more, but developer Sterling Creek Builders adjusted them to a residential-only build after receiving negative feedback from neighbors. 

The council unanimously approved Ordinance 810 (a), which rezoned Granite Pointe as fully residential.

The area originally set aside for commercial development in Granite Pointe will now hold 21 cottage-style homes and ample parking space for subdivision residents. The developer also will reduce the number of planned lakefront estates in the subdivision from 11 to nine to make room for more parking and less crowding. 

The Granite Shoals Planning and Zoning Commission heard developer presentations on Dec. 13 and recommended that the council approve the change.

“One of the reasons we got rid of the commercial aspect, the ability to do a bar, restaurant, or boat dock, is because of you,” said attorney Jeff Kelly, representing Sterling Creek, to a full council chamber. “We don’t want to have unhappy neighbors. We don’t want to have an unhappy community. We want a community that is going to support this project and make it great.”

According to Kelly, Sterling Creek chose to adjust plans for commercial development after residents from the neighboring condominium communities of Lakefront and Tropical Hideaway opposed the inclusion of businesses in the neighborhood. Original plans for multi-use commercial and residential zoning were approved in May 2021. Sterling Creek representatives returned before the council in October 2022 to present the zoning changes, which led to the Dec. 14 vote. 

“I think it’s important that we all realize that tonight is not the final design phase. … It’s simply 810 (a),” Kelly explained. “All it’s doing is asking the council, with the approval of the residents, to phase back from multi-use, commercial dock, large high-scale condos to what’s more responsible and amenable to our neighbors.”

Prior to the vote, Councilor Samantha Ortis addressed the loss of economic development because of the rezoning.

“I do feel like this is a lost opportunity for the city,” she said. “It seems that you guys have done your due diligence to appease the neighbors. I am a little bothered that we, as a city, have now lost out on some significant sales-tax revenue.”

Ortis referred to the numerous discussions the council has had concerning how to bring economic development to Granite Shoals. 

Kelly agreed with Ortis’ statement but again referred to the developer’s desire to be in alignment with the subdivision’s neighbors.

“(Sterling Creek owner John Corcorran) made the financial decision to be more amenable to his neighbors and be more responsible as a developer,” Kelly said. “That, unfortunately, has a negative financial impact for the city.”

While it is unknown what the overall financial impact of the proposed commercial businesses would have been, the 21 cottage-style homes are valued at around $1 million each, which would bring in about $125,000 in property taxes using the 2022-23 Granite Shoals property tax rate

The city’s current sales-tax rate is 8.25 percent, but it only receives 2 percent with the other 6.25 percent going to the state. Potential employment opportunities at the businesses was another unknown factor.

Councilor Phil Ort countered Ortis and Kelly, stating that numerous residents had complained and they had a right to be heard.

“I don’t represent businesses, I represent voters,” he said in response to Kelly’s comments. “I do see the significant value we have lost from the city with the commercial development. I understand (Sterling Creek’s) point of view. I understand (the neighbors’) point of view. But I have to look at all sides.”

Ortis ultimately moved to approve the rezoning and was seconded by Councilor Kevin Flack, leading to unanimous approval.

dakota@thepicayune.com