After a Hail Mary pass connected late Monday, ending Hall County’s objection, Gainesville City Council on Tuesday night gave the final OK needed for the development of a 199-lot upscale subdivision off Ahaluna Drive in Gainesville.
Residents in the area who have opposed the density and quality of the development, near the shores of Lake Lanier, said their only recourse now may be to file a lawsuit against the city to stop the development from proceeding.
Residents said they were caught off guard on Monday when West Ahaluna LLC, a local developer with ties to America’s Home Place, agreed to annex additional properties along Ahaluna Drive and the city agreed to take over maintenance of the road from Hall County.
In exchange, county officials agreed to drop their protest.
The city and county might have been headed for an arbitration hearing to settle their dispute without this deal.
Residents said they were blindsided by the decision and the subsequent vote Tuesday, given the limited time they had to respond to the new circumstances.
“My objection is the process,” said resident David Chamberlain.
Councilman Sam Couvillon said officials had done all they could to find compromise between the developer and area residents, including reducing the number of homes to be built and adding new conditions to protect the lake environment.
Gainesville attorney James Walters, who represents the developer, told The Times on Monday that time is money and any additional delays could be costly.
Residents said they still object to the proposed development on several grounds, including their belief that it effectively creates an “unincorporated island” where the homes on Watauga Drive, and a few more along Ahaluna Drive, are left sandwiched between the city limits and the lakeshore.
And this may be the basis for a lawsuit, though city officials said they believe they are in the clear based on state law.
Residents of Watauga Drive will likely have to decide, eventually, whether to remain in the county or be annexed into the city.