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Flowery Branch to mull manufacturing zoning
Planning to extend sewer line
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City Council meeting

Flowery Branch City Council is set to meet at 6 tonight at City Hall, 5517 Main St. Contact: 770-967-6371 or online.


A touchy February 2010 rezoning has spurred a proposed change in Flowery Branch's zoning law.

The City Council is looking to change the ordinance to create a category allowing heavy manufacturing and industrial uses, so as to provide "a concentration of employment and job activity, contributing substantially to the economic base of the city."

A public hearing on the matter is set for 6 tonight at City Hall, 5517 Main St. The council also is set to give its first OK on the change later in the meeting.

The issue stems from last year's rezoning of property at McEver and Gaines Ferry roads that drew stern opposition from people who wanted to keep the area residential. Area residents, packing the council's meeting room, pleaded with council members to at least delay their vote.

The council ended up approving the rezoning, which was sought by Gainesville engineering firm Rochester & Associates on behalf of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Stonebridge LLC and Alpharetta-based Kelly Family Investments.

But it tacked on numerous restrictions and conditions, including a landscaping buffer, to the proposals.

"As part of this action, the council determined it would be advantageous to revise the existing manufacturing and industrial zoning district" to allow only for light uses as applied to the McEver/Gaines Ferry rezoning, according to a city document on the matter.

Also, the council asked the staff to create a heavy use category.

According to the proposed zoning change, some uses allowed by the heavy category and disallowed by the light category include an auction house or yard, a carnival, composting facility, crematorium not in conjunction with a funeral home or mortuary, and a food processing plant.

Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that no specific development was planned for the area at the time of the rezoning request — nor is today — but proper zoning is necessary "to get any site ready for development for commercial or light industrial," he said.

"So is getting utilities to (the site)," Evans said.

Flowery Branch is planning to extend a sewer line through the area, connecting a Cinnamon Cove facility on Gaines Ferry Road to the city's sewer plant on Atlanta Highway.

"We're marketing (the McEver/Gaines Ferry) property through our partners," he said. "Light manufacturing is a very good use. I think it's very appropriate that Flowery Branch is creating a finer definition ... of what manufacturing zoning means."

Construction of the line could begin in late winter or early spring, "depending on how we get our financing together," City Manager Bill Andrew said.

"I think that once our sewer line gets across the site (at McEver and Gaines Ferry), interest will pick up," he said.

In other business, the city is holding a public hearing on whether to close its 3,964-foot portion of Bragg Road, a two-lane dirt road serving as a cut-through for many motorists.

Over the past few years, the city has received many complaints about the road's deteriorating condition and reports about illegal trash dumping and drug transactions, officials have said.

"A few years back, a drug deal went bad and two persons were killed on Bragg Road," said Flowery Branch Police Chief Gerald Lanich in a memo to City Planner James Riker.

Part of the road, which skirts the massive Sterling on the Lake subdivision, is in Hall County.

City staff has been working with the county to assure that any closure doesn't adversely affect the road's one property owner, officials said.