Flowery Branch gave its nod Thursday night to taking a second swing at a federal grant that would go toward developing a South Hall comprehensive plan.
The city agreed to join neighboring cities of Braselton, Buford and Oakwood in seeking the $400,000 Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But here's the catch: If the South Hall consortium gets the money, it would have to provide an $80,000 match, with $20,000 from each of the four cities.
"We would have the ability not to accept the grant even if it was awarded," City Manager Bill Andrew said. "This isn't a hard commitment for the city to make this evening, if that's one concern you have."
The council ended up voting 3-2 on the issue, with council members Chris Fetterman and Amanda Swafford opposed.
"Why isn't Hall County involved in this, because obviously we're going to have to be crossing county lines?" Fetterman asked Andrew.
"The county has sort of shown its hand on the way they view this in the sense they've asked (the state) for a three-year extension on (updating) its comprehensive land-use plan," Andrew said.
"We're actually trying to look at having a whole different layer, an action plan for seeing the community develop, and on the county's side, they're postponing their effort for three years."
Fetterman also raised a concern about the funding distribution based on city sizes and projects that may be recommended in the study.
Andrew said the initial study wouldn't favor one area over another but would look at the area "as a whole."
"It may show that there are projects that make more sense at this time in certain parts of the region," he said.
However, Andrew said, "we're kind of unique in that we're in the center, so we feel like we may benefit ... no matter how the chips fall."
Councilman Joe Anglin pushed for seeking the grant, noting that no firm commitment up front is needed.
The deadline for applying for the grant is Oct. 6.
If the cities get the money, they would spend the money on, among other things, hiring a firm to complete the study, putting together and maintaining a website, and holding community meetings.
Despite talk of how the study would benefit the region, Andrew wasn't particularly optimistic about getting the grant.
"The chance of us getting these funds is fairly slim," he said. "We were invited to make the application, and that's a good sign. But we are competing against some rather large entities."
The grant reapplication comes nearly one year after the four cities learned they had been passed over in their first try for the Sustainable Communities grant.
At the time, HUD had awarded $100 million of the planning grants nationwide, but none in Georgia.