THOMASVILLE -- Shirlene Cook bought a home on Whitehurst Street about a year ago because she likes the neighborhood she says is quiet and clean, one in which children ride their bikes in the streets and families and elderly people regularly take walks.

"It reminded me of a 'Leave it to Beaver' neighborhood," she said of her first impressions of the neighborhood. "It's just such a beautiful area."

For Cook and dozens of others, the beauty and peace that neighborhood and those surrounding it offers is being threatened by 10.8 nearby acres that may soon get a zoning change from agricultural to residential.

Developer Ormand Hunter has proposed a development of about 30 single-family homes off Smith Avenue that would be accessible only through Gail Street. It is estimated that the development would bring with it an additional 338 vehicle trips per day, and disgruntled residents say the traffic should be divided among their streets and the Puzzle Lake development, the areas between which the 10.8 acres sit. The Thomasville Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the zoning change 7-1 at its June meeting but voted 4-4 on the preliminary plans in light of concerns, said city Planner Greg Weathersby.

About 30 concerned residents attended Monday's city council meeting, some of whom spoke their minds before council members were to take a final vote on the zoning change. This outpouring prompted the council to table the vote. Council member Camille Payne isn't against the zoning change but said tabling the vote will put pressure on Hunter, who lives in Puzzle Lake, to address the concerns of the angry residents. Hunter could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"There has been such an outpouring of dismay at the plat he did submit, we wanted to give him additional time and encourage him to get with the neighborhood and work out a solution," said Payne. "I can understand why they are dismayed."

Residents' concerns focus on the safety of walkers and an increase in noise due to a higher volume of traffic. One Gail Street resident said two entrances to the new subdivision would not only spread the burden but would also be useful for emergency purposes. Another resident, one who lives on Palm Drive, said it's all about the children.

"The kids won't be safe in our neighborhood," she said. "I like it the way it is, personally."

Hunter said at Monday's meeting that the traffic increase wouldn't be significant and that he has seen few walkers in the area.

A special called meeting of the Thomasville Planning and Zoning Commission will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, June 23, in council chambers to discuss the proposed plat. "We're coming back so (Hunter) can get some clarification and guidance," Weathersby said.

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