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Developer eyes new subdivision in Gainesville
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Gainesville planning board meeting

What: Vote on a rezoning request for new subdivision on Wilson Road

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Municipal courtroom of the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway

For 10 years, John Roberts has watched property languish undeveloped along Wilson Drive in Gainesville.

The short street jutting northeast off Athens Highway ends in a cul-de-sac, with a gravel road extending from there.

A coin laundry and barbecue restaurant stand nearby, across the street from the vacant, partially graded parcel that Roberts hopes to turn into a subdivision.

Roberts, the president of Alcovy-20 Inc., will ask the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board on Tuesday to rezone about 26 acres so he can proceed with building 55 single-family homes.

But there have been many downs and few ups in getting to this point.

The city first approved a residential zoning for the land in 2004, when Roberts was proposing to construct 165 homes across an 82-acre parcel. But those plans fell through.

“It just was not feasible to complete that particular project,” Roberts said.

Then, in 2006, the land was zoned as part of a 126-acre parcel to allow for office, warehouse and retail developments.

“At that point in time, the housing market had fallen through,” Roberts said.

So he lined up partners to build out the land for commercial use. But when those partners backed out and neighboring properties went into foreclosure, Roberts was forced to scrap those plans, as well.

“So we’re back to square one now,” he said.

Roberts said he thinks the timing is right to re-enter the housing market. He said his two-story homes will complement neighborhoods in the area, where sales prices are hovering around $150,000.

Because the property is in the North Oconee River Watershed District, it is subject to certain buffer restrictions to nearby streams.

“If everything went smoothly ... I would hope to break ground” in two to three months, Roberts said.