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508-acre waterfront development goes to Hall planning board
Staff recommends approval, with conditions
development Page 1
The proposed Atlanta River Walk would bring homes, shopping, restaurants, offices, a hotel and a man-made river to 508 acres off Old Winder Highway in South Hall near the Jackson County line.

Public hearing

What: The Hall County Planning Commission will consider rezoning for a 508-acre multi-use development featuring a man-made river.

When: 5:15 p.m. Monday

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road

A proposed 508-acre waterfront development in South Hall near the Jackson County line has the blessing of Hall County planning officials as long as certain conditions are met.

One of them concerns traffic.

“Staff is recommending that the developer work with Hall County engineering and/or (Georgia Department of Transportation) on determining the road improvements necessary to serve this development,” states a Hall County document.

The $700 million development, set to be heard Monday by the Hall County Planning Commission, would include some 265 single-family homes, 215 townhomes, 600 multifamily units, 242,000 square feet of retail space and 424,000 square feet of office space.

Peachtree City-based ARW Group LLC’s plans also call for a 200-room hotel, 20,000-square-foot convention center, 50,000-square-foot grocery store and 60,000-square-foot theater.

But its centerpiece is construction of “a man-made feature similar to a river and surrounding it with world-class mixed-use development,” ARW Group principal Jorge Duran has said.

The development is planned off Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211 at Union Church Road. Its property also would abut the Road Atlanta racing course in Braselton.

Ga. 211 is a critical transportation artery, running from Winder Highway/Ga. 53 to Interstate 85, traveling past Chateau Elan and Friendship Road/Ga. 347. A health community is burgeoning off Friendship Road at Ga. 211, including the 100-bed Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.

A traffic impact study prepared by a Marietta engineering firm and filed with Hall County suggests additional turn lanes off Ga. 211 and a traffic signal at Union Church Road.

Union Church is a busy connector in its own right, traveling 10 miles between Ga. 211 and Ga. 53.

The potential development also has raised environmental worries.

“There are lakes and additional wetlands shown on various aerials that are not being designated on the concept plan,” according to a Jackson County written response to the project.

And the Atlanta Regional Commission says, “After construction, water quality will be impacted due to polluted stormwater runoff.”

Chris Manganiello, policy director of Georgia River Network, said last week in an email he believes the ARC and Jackson County concerns “are all warranted.”

“Significant impacts to creeks, streams and ponds will need an approved mitigation plan,” he said. “Green infrastructure is a proven way to manage stormwater.”

Also, “if water is the focus of this development, water management in all phases of development — land clearing, construction and post-construction — should protect, enhance and ultimately improve water quality in the Mulberry River.”

The board’s recommendation will be sent to the Hall County Board of Commissioners for final action at a public hearing set for July 14.

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