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Flowery Branch subdivision residents worry about more development
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Several residents of the Sterling on the Lake subdivision voiced concerns at the Flowery Branch public hearing on Thursday regarding the community developer’s application to rezone tracts of land within the residential area, which may lead to more commercial and residential development.

Newland Communities, the company responsible for the development of Sterling on the Lake, filed a rezoning application with Hall County on more than 77 acres that fronts Bragg Road and Capitola Farm Road. The developer seeks to change the current agricultural-residential tract to be zoned as a planned unit development for single-family homes.

Newland Communities is also asking Flowery Branch for the annexation and rezoning of another 26-acre tract located at 6596 Capitola Farm Road. The developer seeks to develop single-family homes on this property, as well.

But it’s the rezoning of four acres that has some homeowners up in arms.

Newland Communities’ request with the Flowery Branch City Council to refine the Sterling on the Lake master plan includes designating the four acres located near the entrance to the community as a commercial zone.

Plans for the four acres include a day care center, a restaurant building and general retail businesses. The piece of land is across from the Hall County library at the intersection of Spout Springs Road and Lake Sterling Boulevard.

Sterling on the Lake resident Stuart Caldwell spoke against the application that would lead to more residential and commercial development, and is concerned about the land between the creek behind his home and Bragg Road.

Caldwell said Sterling on the Lake developers said the waterfall and greenspace area behind his home would not be developed.

"That’s what we were promised; that’s what we paid for as residents," he said.

And it’s the developer’s promises of greenspace and an invitation to "live among the trees" that Caldwell said has citizens concerned about the many trees that are being cut down in the area. He brought a petition to the hearing with 31 Sterling on the Lake resident signatures in an effort to demonstrate the community’s disapproval of the potential rezoning.

"They’re developing area that was initially communicated to everyone as greenspace," he said.

Another Sterling on the Lake resident, Rob Stanford, said that he was tolerant of the developer’s initial plans for retail development within the community, but he does not approve of additional commercial development.

"Had I known that they were going to develop the land behind my lot, I wouldn’t have bought the lot," he said.

Sterling on the Lake residents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns to the Flowery Branch City Council at its next meeting at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7.

Flowery Branch officials also discussed a $189,000 Community Home Improvement Program grant the city received from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency. The grant will be used to assist some individuals in their down payment for rehabilitating owner-occupied homes. A homeowner could be eligible to receive up to $14,999 to upgrade homes to meet code standards. The federal government requires a public hearing to be held for residents to discuss issues regarding federal grants.

The council also discussed an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance Zoning Text Amendment as well as making more specifications to clarify the Unsafe Structure Ordinance and the Nuisance Ordinance. The first readings of the two amendments will be held at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 21.

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