Houston approves rezoning for development at new Ga. 96 intersection

PERRY -- A man credited with sparking explosive growth at the intersection of Ga. 96 and Lake Joy Road is now turning to a new location.

The Houston County Commission on Tuesday approved a request to rezone 9 acres on the northeast corner of Ga. 247 and the new overpass of Ga. 96. The overpass just north of Bonaire is part of the widening of Ga. 96 that is now underway.

The property will be rezoned from residential to commercial for the purpose of developing a shopping center.

The request was made by developer Robert Lee “Merg” Hoffman, president of Merganser Enterprises of Smyrna. Hoffman was involved with the development of Paradise Shoppes anchored by Publix at the intersection of Lake Joy Road and Ga. 96.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said there was nothing at the intersection at the time. Today it is practically a town in itself, with a movie theater, a Lowe’s store, numerous restaurants and many other businesses.

“You jumped out there in the middle of nowhere because you had the vision of what was going to happen in that area of the county,” Stalnaker said. “I think you see the same thing now about to happen in the area of the county where 96 and 247 connect.”

“Absolutely,” Hoffman responded.

Outside the meeting, Hoffman said it’s still too early to give any details of what the shopping center might entail, or when construction might start. He said he is in talks with potential tenants but declined to name any because he said there have been no commitments. Hoffman would only describe the project as a “traditional neighborhood shopping center.”

He said he is in talks with several potential anchor tenants.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.