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Flowery Branch OKs rezonings on McEver, Gaines Ferry
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City finances in the black, may end furloughs

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew talked to City Council on Thursday night about the possibility of ending monthly employee furloughs.

Andrew said that in reviewing expenses and revenues, the city now appears it will end the fiscal year on June 30 with a surplus of $150,000 to $180,000.

“Frankly, we underestimated some revenues on property taxes,” Andrew said. “We felt there would be a real hit ... because of the downturn in the economy and so many homes being foreclosed on, and we just didn’t see that happen.”

Also, the city overbudgeted for insurance costs.

The furloughs have been in place this fiscal year, which started July 1.

The council ended up deciding to discuss the furlough issue at its Feb. 27 retreat.

Jeff Gill

Flowery Branch City Council voted Thursday night to approve a batch of rezonings and annexations that would pave the way for several commercial and manufacturing uses.

The group tacked on numerous restrictions and conditions, including a landscaping buffer, to the proposals, which affect the property off McEver and Gaines Ferry roads.

Area residents packed the council’s meeting room to hear the discussion and vote. Several voiced opposition, particularly to the manufacturing rezoning, and asked that council at least delay the vote.

“I hope you vote against it and keep (the area) residential,” said Bell Drive resident Mike Baker.

The applicant in the proposals was Gainesville engineering firm Rochester & Associates, representing Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Stonebridge LLC and Alpharetta-based Kelly Family Investments.

At stake was the annexation of nearly 45 1/2 acres split among five parcels and rezoning of nearly 31 1/2 acres next to those properties and farther north on McEver Road.

All the lots are vacant, except for some landscaping and subdivision signs. And no particular projects are planned on the properties, City Planner James Riker has said.

Pat Olson, president of a homeowners association and the Homemakers Club of Flowery Branch, asked the council to postpone voting.

“Remember, you have asked us to trust that you have our wishes and our well being in heart,” she told the council. “Why would the delay of two weeks be so critical?”

Kim James, who spoke at the council’s Feb. 4 public hearing on the proposals, reaffirmed her opposition.

“It makes absolutely no sense to me that there would be in the middle of all this residential (development) this island of manufacturing,” she said.

The council gave its first OK at the Feb. 4 meeting.

Councilman Chris Fetterman said at Thursday night’s meeting, “There will be a lot of work and opportunity to ensure that this development is beneficial to the surrounding community.

“... With the development of new structures and the redevelopment of others, I will ensure that they are aesthetically pleasing and that developers are held to high standards.”