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Hall commissioners to hear rezoning request

Planning board OK'd Riverbrook development plans last month

POSTED: December 9, 2012 11:30 p.m.

A proposed rezoning that would clear the way for a planned commercial site and residential apartment complex on 83 acres in North Hall now goes before the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

The matter first goes before the board at today’s work session, then to a vote at Thursday’s board meeting.

And county officials will present it with the Hall County Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval.

Riverbrook Village Development Partners LLC of Murrayville is seeking approval of proposed changes to its master plan for the development, which sits in the northwest corner of Price and Thompson Bridge roads.

Changes initially included reducing commercial square footage from 373,450 to 316,000 and going from more than 60 attached townhomes to 288 apartment units. The commercial side is 60 acres and the apartment site, 22 acres.

The planning commission’s OK last month came with several conditions, including a 200-apartment-unit limit, an amenities package starting with the first phase of development and a ban on income-assisted tenants. Planning Commissioner Bo Brooks, the lone nay vote, said he was concerned about the amount of density and that the plan was too aggressive.

The proposal has drawn criticism from area residents, with more than 50 residents attending the Nov. 19 planning board meeting and several speaking against the plan.

“The current proposal is completely out of character with the low-density residential characteristics of the North Hall community,” said Jeremy Griffey, vice president of the Walnut Grove Homeowners Association, at the time. “The burden that this proposal would put on the residents of Walnut Grove is severe.”

The planning commission had earlier postponed a decision and urged a compromise between the business executives and the residents. The developers agreed to lower the amount of apartment units from 288 to 240.

They also agreed to build a right-turn access road from Thompson Bridge Road to the apartments to help relieve traffic congestion.

The land was bought by real estate developers Steve McKibbon and Robbie Robison before the economic downturn and they originally planned to build a number of town houses on the site.

Gainesville lawyer Steve Gilliam, who represented McKibbon and Robison at the Nov. 19 meeting, said people are not buying town houses now, but they are renting. The project would generate more than $800,000 for Hall County. Just the residential side would create 148 temporary jobs, Gilliam said.

Today’s meeting, taking place at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. with an executive session. The Thursday meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. in the same location.

The commission also is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday for an executive session to conduct interviews for the warden at the Hall County Correctional Institute.

The last warden, Avery Niles, left to become the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice commissioner on Nov. 1. Deputy Warden Dennis Udzinski has served as the interim warden.

This week’s meetings are the last for Commission Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Ashley Bell, who lost this year in bids for re-election. Former Hall County Sheriff Dick Mecum will succeed Oliver and Gainesville businessman Jeff Stowe takes over for Bell on Jan. 1.


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