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City schools may lose Mundy Mill school property
Foreclosure, zoning changes, economy have put crimp in timeline
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Gainesville school Superintendent Merrianne Dyer is hopeful that future developers of the Mundy Mill village plan to keep an elementary school in the mega development.

“It’s been indicated that having a school in the development — in one portion or the other — has been seen as a positive thing by potential developers,” said Dyer.

Although she added it’s unlikely now that the school system will be able to build on the site Mundy Mill’s original developer promised school officials years ago.

In the last two years, Robby Lanier, the mastermind behind a “live, learn, work, play” village in Hall County, has lost much of the development to foreclosure.

And last month, Regions Bank filed a foreclosure notice on a parcel that included a 17-acre site Lanier had promised to the school system.

The string of foreclosures caused Gainesville officials to change the zoning requirements for the property to allow for the new reality.

The original zoning standards were written with one master developer in mind. The new standards make way for multiple developers to build out the project.

When it voted on the changes last week, the Gainesville City Council removed a condition that would have given the school system another four years to build an elementary school on a 17-acre site in the village-type development.

The condition had been added by the city’s Planning and Appeals Board last month at the request of school officials.

The original zoning stipulations required Lanier to donate the site to the school system, and gave the school system until December of 2013 to begin building the school.

School officials say now they likely won’t need the Mundy Mill school until 2015 or 2020 because of their own economic woes and slowed growth in the system’s enrollment.

An attorney for Regions, which acquired the property meant for the school site last month, said the bank would not be able to give the school system extra time.

And although the school system already spent money mitigating it, Dyer said school officials aren’t banking on the original site anymore.

“The property that we had originally had designated to us appears to be more valuable as commercial property, so the chances of us being on that property are slim to none,” she said.

School officials are hopeful, however, that they will be able to work with other developers to find a site for the future school somewhere in the 605-acre development. She said the architectural plans can be adapted to another site.

“What we’ll do now is see who the developers are, and it does appear there will be more than one, and hopefully work with them on including them in our vision for their development,” said Dyer. “We’ll keep an eye on the property that they have and just work from there. But we will have to work with the developer.”