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North Hall steps closer to development

Planning board backs rezoning for 1,507 acres

POSTED: December 29, 2007 5:02 a.m.
The Hall County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a developer’s rezoning request Monday that could allow 2,736 houses to be built in Lula.

Property owners Ferdinand and Felix Mayr-Meinhof submitted a request to the planning commission to rezone a 1,507-acre tract of land in North Hall from agricultural residential and vacation cottage to planned residential and commercial development.

Named after the creek flowing through the property, the Hagen Creek development will support 1 million square feet of commercial and office space, as well as recreational facilities and a school.

The debt-free land is located on Ga. 365 and is bordered by Ga. 52 to the west and Belton Bridge Road to the east.

"I think it’s a good project that will work out and that will be something we’re proud of if it’s built as proposed," said Don Smallwood, planning commission chairman.

The Mayr-Meinhof family has owned the property since 1979 and has harvested timber on the site until rising property values prompted the owners to develop the land. Portions of the property are used for deer hunting.

The plan includes a commercial business area as a gateway to residences ranging from small single-family homes to larger estate homes on the wooded property.

"We’ve known something like this was coming," said Kit Dunlap, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce president. "I think it will be a great project to have one owner that cares about the land and has preservation projects — and we haven’t had that before in Hall County."

Dunlap has visited the Mayr-Meinhofs in Austria, and she said the family has spent many years visiting residential developments in the U.S. and abroad to ensure the Hagen Creek development is one of high quality.

"They really care about the land," Dunlap said.

The Austrian brothers have hired Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, a Florida-based planning and design firm, to design the community. During the meeting, the planning commission voiced concerns regarding the sewer and transportation aspects of the Hagen Creek project.

As a condition of the rezoning approval, the firm agreed to conduct another traffic study to assess transportation impacts on regional road networks and identify necessary improvements. John Fish, vice president of planning and landscape architecture with the firm, said that if the project is further approved, a parkway will be constructed from Belton Bridge Road through Hagen Creek to Ga. 52.

Fish said developers have yet to determine if they would use Lula sewer lines or if a private sewer system would be constructed to service the development.

Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said the city opposed a privatized sewer for the proposed project. The Lula wastewater treatment plant is adjacent to the Mayr-Meinhof’s property.

According to Fish, if approved, construction on Hagen Creek could begin in the next several years, and would likely be developed within the next 12 to 16 years. The project could generate 3,600 short-term and permanent jobs for the area.

Also, according to Fish, the proposed development could generate $16.6 million in combined tax revenue by 2027 from Hagen Creek’s commercial and residential areas, amenities and personal property.

The Georgia Mountains Regional Development Commission also approved the Hagen Creek project that will have a definitive impact on North Hall. After receiving approval Monday from the Hall County Planning Commission, the development plan awaits final rezoning approval at the next Board of Commissioners public hearing on Jan. 10.



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