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Flowery Branch City Council adopts redevelopment plan

Historic downtown concept is outcome of 6-month study

POSTED: January 3, 2014 12:09 a.m.

Flowery Branch’s mayor and City Council adopted the city’s redevelopment plan for its historic downtown Thursday night.

Council also heard a first reading toward annexation and rezoning of four “highly developable properties” adjacent to its busiest retail centers at the intersection of Spout Springs and Hog Mountain roads.

The redevelopment concept is specific to the downtown historic area, and is the outcome of about six months of study of existing infrastructure, development and potential uses for city-owned properties that make up 11 acres.

“It allows us to look at the trends ... set the table for developers,” said City Planner John McHenry.

The study, completed by consultant Pond & Co., is intended to be fluid as the city determines its needs and funding availability and establishes anticipated public-private partnerships.

“I think they’ve come up with one way to approach it; there’s a lot of ways,” McHenry said of the proposals.

The concept plan — the name was modified to better capture its creative agility — maintains the historic city’s Main Street but replicates it running parallel to existing buildings including pocket parks and reconfiguring parking to provide at least 200 additional spaces.

A town center park and upscale town homes are integrated into city-owned property, to serve the area’s growth in the 45-64 and 65-plus age groups.

A new city administration center would consolidate services, open more space for retail growth and serve as a community center. The proposed location on Railroad Avenue would also serve as a buffer against train noise.

The Lights Ferry Connector, which is in right-of-way acquisition, would tie main traffic corridor McEver Road to Atlanta Highway, intersected by a new traffic circle to create a gateway into Old Town.

“We’re adopting an overall vision and blueprint” McHenry told council. “There may be some changes to specific locations; it’s a moving target.”

City Manager Bill Andrew said the city is talking with developers who have expressed interest in hearing more about the city’s vision.

Pond & Co. also outlined the first three years of potential projects, “first focusing on the low-hanging fruit,” said Pond & Co.’s Joel Reed, who presented the final plan to council.

“Probably one of the next steps,” McHenry said, “is to get the good word out.”

Council member Tara Richards said she believes the plan is a “great opportunity to show people where we’re going in a concise fashion.”

Funding of projects, as well as their priorities, were also addressed, but are dependent upon the SPLOST VII vote expected this fall, and other grant and loan opportunities.

Noting the city’s creation of a development district and opportunity zone, Reed said, “Now there’s a framework plan for developers, for staff to revisit.”

Council will hear a second reading, during its Jan. 16 meeting, on annexing the four properties along Spout Springs Road and Old Orr Road that, if combined, would contain approximately 20 acres, sufficient for big-box development, Andrew said. Widening of Spout Springs Road has an estimated completion date of 2017, if funding goes as hoped.


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