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Flowery Branch City council approves City Hall financing
New subdivision rezoning also gets nod
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Park Walk subdivision moved a step closer to construction, and financing for a new City Hall was approved Monday night by the Flowery Branch City Council.

The Park Walk development, along Jim Crow Road, was rezoned as a planned unit development with slightly different conditions than the first plan.

The development, first approved in 2005, has been bought by Meritage Homes, an Arizona company.

It is on a 43.45-acre tract of land and is now approved for 137 houses.

City Manager Bill Andrew said after the meeting that he believes the company plans to start work soon.

High Pointe Capital, the original developer, put in roads and streetlights. The development has 46 lots platted now.

Council unanimously approved the changed condition and the new PUD zoning for Park Walk.

The other significant development — a new City Hall — will be financed through the Gainesville Hall County Development Authority with financing of 1.56 percent interest through JP Morgan Chase. The financing is for 13 years and cannot be paid off early under the agreement, Jeremy Perry, city finance director, said.

Perry noted the city originally thought the interest rate for the project would be about 3.5 percent. The city had an offer for 2.19 percent through BB&T before the JP Morgan Chase offer.

Perry said the city would save about $197,000 in interest costs because of the 1.56 percent rate.

Andrew said construction on the new City Hall still is on schedule for starting in October. The construction cost is $3,366,000 and site preparation will cost $797,000. Total price for the facility is anticipated to be $5.3 million.

The vote to approve the financing was 4-1. Council member Joe Anglin opposed it — as he has consistently done on votes about the project.

In other business, the council:

• Approved hiring Clark Patterson Lee to do building inspection services until a new building inspector can be hired. Andrew told the council he will seek a qualified person as quickly as he can. Anglin noted the private firm will charge about $100 an hour. Andrew told the council finding qualified people for the job is difficult when the need is heavy because they can work construction positions for more money. The city’s building inspector’s last day was Thursday. Perry said the salary for the position is about $43,000.

• Elected council member Fred Richards chairman of the city’s new Urban Redevelopment Agency. Chris Mundy was named vice chair. Andrew said the URA is group that can be useful as the city seeks to carry out its urban redevelopment plan for its downtown area.

• Approved an addition of about $20,000 to its contract with Wakefield Beasley & Associates for design work that was mistakenly left out of the contract for the new City Hall. The additions deal with audio-visual equipment, security, information technology and communications. The total contract now is about $420,000.