Hall County isn’t counting on commercial development at the Sardis and Ledan roads intersection for the next five years.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted to remove the intersection’s “community crossroads” designation from the county’s 20-year comprehensive plan update, which was approved by commissioners on Monday.
Every five years, the county is put to the task of updating the county’s master plan — a summary of how planners and consultants see the county changing and growing in the next 20 years.
In this round of updates, planners created development corridors, divided the county into broad commercial, residential, agricultural and other regions and made other changes into how growth is expected.
One of the new designations is the community crossroads.
“Those are going to be really small areas of commercial development that pop up in crossroad areas — typically two key intersections,” Sarah McQuade, the county’s principal planner, told the commission on Monday. “It’s going to have very small, neighborhood-driven retail uses, not any large developments.”
The Sardis-Ledan intersection was in the crosshairs for one of those crossroads.
While the plan reflects what the county expects to happen, it also makes the planning and zoning process easier for applicants who want to use land in a way that fits the plan — and harder for those that don’t.
The Chimneys Homeowners Association was worried that encouraging retail growth at the intersection might further choke a congested area.
“We’re the beneficiary of a trickle-down effect, something we refer to as the ‘Dawsonville Highway traffic nightmare trickle-down effect,’” said Marc Eggers, president of the association, noting that people coming into Hall County have started breaking from the highway. “They’re cutting through the Sardis area, going to Thompson Bridge Road and then going to their destination. Traffic in that area is on the increase, and it will continue to be that way.”
The county has started construction of a roundabout at the intersection. It’s also waiting on the Georgia Department of Transportation to start the Sardis Road Connector Project — a series a road improvements between Ga. 53 and Ga. 60.
At the moment, that project remains a ways off.
“DOT considers that project to be in the long term,” said Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala. “Unless something happens in the next couple of years, I would say the project is still five to seven years away.”
Eggers said the subdivision was convinced that setting the stage for retail growth at the intersection while those projects are in the works was a bad idea.
“Let us come back here in five years,” he said. “Based upon what we know now, those obscure four little acres among the 275,000 of Hall County are not ready for the increase in traffic that the proposed comprehensive plan believes it to be.”
Yamala supported leaving the community crossroads designation for Sardis-Ledan in place, but commissioners unanimously voted to approve the document without it.
Without the designation in place, an entrepreneur may still apply for a zoning permit to open a shop near the intersection, but county planners aren’t allowed to recommend an application be approved if it doesn’t match the comprehensive plan.
Commissioner Jeff Stowe also noted that “whether it’s designated a crossroad or not, it does not prevent somebody from coming before us with a zoning application for anything in that area” even though county staff would recommend any application be denied.
Traffic through the intersection might end up being diverted anyway.
“I think once the Sardis Connector is put in it would be a miniscule crossroads at that point because most people would want to go to Thompson Bridge Road,” said Commissioner Scott Gibbs.