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Flowery Branch seeks public input as it mulls future growth
Meeting set for downtown Tuesday night
Flowery Branch officials want to hear from developers to see how the city can help jump-start development of large tracts of land such as this property off Thurmon Tanner Parkway and Phil Niekro Boulevard.

Public meeting

What: Flowery Branch comprehensive plan update

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Historic Train Depot at Railroad Avenue and Main Street

Flowery Branch residents can have their say Tuesday on what they see the South Hall County town looking like in upcoming years.

As part of steps in submitting a comprehensive plan update to the state, the city has scheduled a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Historic Train Depot at Railroad Avenue and Main Street.

“We want to reach out to the public … and hear from them about future vision, ideas and capital projects,” said John McHenry, the city’s community development director.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs requires an update every five years and, as part of that effort, cities must get public input.

“Once public comments have been addressed, the community may begin the process of developing the plan,” according to the department.

“Local comprehensive planning creates an environment of predictability for business and industry, investors, property owners, taxpayers and the general public.”

The city has used such plans to develop projects, McHenry said.

“We do treat these (updates) as real documents,” he said. “We’re cooking with gas in terms of our roundabout project, new city hall and Cinnamon Cove sewer line.”

The roundabout is part of the Lights Ferry Connector, a road that will run from Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 to McEver, skirting downtown but, officials hope, helping to spur economic development in the area.

Officials have long discussed a new city hall to consolidate government operations and are eyeing a spot at Railroad and Chestnut Street.

And the city is completing a new sewer line that will run from Gaines Ferry Road to the sewer plant off Ga. 13, another project geared to helping stir development.

“We want to continue along those lines,” McHenry said, speaking of projects in general.

City officials particularly want to hear from developers “and see if there is anything staff could do in terms of jump-starting development at some of these larger parcels in the city,” he said. “Every large parcel usually has a story on why it is or isn’t moving forward.”

The city has large chunks of open land, perhaps most visibly an 85-acre tract off Thurmon Tanner Parkway and Phil Niekro Boulevard.

Longtime Flowery Branch businesswoman Janet Upchurch, owner of Sample Pleasures on Main Street, said she believes the city “still needs to work very hard on the fact that Flowery Branch is kind of a segregated town — segregated by (Interstate) 985.”

Flowery Branch has what has been called “Old Town,” or older sections of town running near the railroad line. And then it has an area east of I-985 that has sprung up over the past 15 years, bringing shops, restaurants and the 1,000-acre Sterling on the Lake subdivision.

Also, Upchurch doesn’t like the planned city hall’s location.

“I think that’s prime retail space,” she said.

Otherwise, “I’m glad (city officials) are thinking about the future and not just staying stagnant,” Upchurch said.

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