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Nursery hits roadblock with RH council
Board to revisit conditional-use request at Oct. meeting
Elmgren 1
Elmgrens Services owner Greg Elmgren is proposing to open an upscale garden center similar to his current location, shown here at 9120 Ford Ave., on the corner of Cherokee Street and Ford Avenue. - photo by Steve Scholar

The devil, they say, is in the details. And the Richmond Hill City Council and local businessman Greg Elmgren couldn’t agree on the details in a called workshop Tuesday at City Hall.
Elmgren is proposing to put an “upscale garden center” on a 1.53-acre parcel at the corner of Cherokee Street and Ford Avenue, which is zoned C-1, or neighborhood commercial. To do that, Elmgren sought a conditional use to allow a plant nursery.
A public hearing was held before the city’s planning commission Sept. 9 and the matter was later heard by the council, which tabled the request because of concerns about how the business would look and affect the residents in the area.
Those concerns were not eased during the city’s workshop this week. Elmgren told the mayor and council that he was prepared to use fencing and screens to shield residents from the center’s daily operation.
Councilman Russ Carpenter took exception with the “industrial” aspect of the operation and said the use of fencing and screens would still not entice him to support the conditional use.
In addition to retail sales on the property, Elmgren said, there would also be several large mulch bins to the rear of the property. The equipment used to load and unload mulch from the bins includes a bobcat and landscape trailer, in addition to a truck.
Carpenter termed that an industrial use and said it had the potential to be unsightly, noisy and disturb the area’s residents.
“I have a problem with the aesthetics. There will be a lot of activity on that property. I want to allow a local business to expand but I have a problem with the aesthetics,” Carpenter said.
The councilman said he could better support the request for a conditional use for that type of business if Elmgren would eliminate what Carpenter called the industrial use and strictly concentrate on a retail operation.
“If it were just retail, I’d be down there in a minute. I just can’t support trucks and other equipment moving around so close to homes,” Carpenter said.
Elmgren said eliminating the mulch bins would cut down on his profits.
“Your profit is not my concern,” Carpenter said.
Councilman Van Hunter said the City Council would have to look at long-range zoning implications if the conditional use were approved.

Read more in the Sept. 25 edition of the News.

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