Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday night to approve annexing 76 acres near the intersection of Browns Bridge Road and Montgomery Drive to expand the Cresswind at Lake Lanier subdivision.
Cresswind owner OK Lake Lanier LLLP, also known as the Kolter Group, requested the land be annexed and zoned as planned unit development to increase its number of lots from 799 to 950. Kolter Vice President Robert Rademacher said the company is selling houses faster than expected and, if this pace continues, it will have less than a year’s supply of lots on hand.
“We’re a little bit of a victim of our own success,” he said. “We’re going to run out of lots if we continue at the pace we’re on.”
One of the conditions of the annexation is that a traffic study must be conducted before development can begin, though clearing and grading the land will be allowed. The traffic study was previously delayed at the request of city Planning Manager Matt Tate, who said the city could not get accurate counts until school is in session.
Ken Stanford, a 40-year resident of Montgomery Drive, addressed the council to voice his concerns about the development’s impact on traffic.
“Our street is a high-traffic shortcut between Browns Bridge Road and McEver Road,” he said. “Having an entrance on Montgomery is going to make the traffic that much worse on our street.”
Kolter representative Brian Rochester addressed Stanford’s concerns by saying the company plans to build a tunnel under Browns Bridge Road in order to keep traffic between the subdivision’s northern and southern sites internal. He said Cresswind’s target demographic, adults over the age of 50, drives less than its traditional counterparts and most of its car trips will be to amenities within the community.
The tunnel will cost an estimated $1.5 million.
“We think that post-development, Montgomery Drive will be better than it is predevelopment,” he said.
Stanford’s other concern was that the trees and undergrowth that occupy the 35-foot buffer zone around the development site should be left undisturbed. Rochester responded that some landscaping will be necessary but that it will not be overdeveloped.
The council voted unanimously, with the exception of Ruth Bruner and George Wangemann who were absent, to approve the request.
“The first phases of development (for Cresswind) have certainly exceeded any expectations I had,” Councilman Bob Hamrick said after the meeting. “We’re seeing not only quality development but also quality people that are moving in.”
Two other requests were heard by the council, one by developer Curtis McGill to annex about 3.5 acres near the intersection of Enota and Yonah avenues to build a 54-suite assisted living facility, and another to rename Kids Way to Gabriel Drive. Both measures were approved.
Hamrick ended the meeting by stating that in light of the housing interest and recent reports, it appears the housing market in Gainesville is improving. There have been 113 single-family residential permits issued in the city so far this year, which is more than twice the number issued by this time last year, he said.