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Gainesville council gives first OK in rezoning for assisted living center
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Gainesville City Council gave its first OK Tuesday night to a zoning change that would pave the way for a planned 200-bed assisted living center on Thompson Bridge Road.

Dawsonville-based Over The Hill Holdings is seeking the change in the planned unit development designation to allow construction of the center on 10 acres next to Rubicon, an office building overlooking Lake Lanier.

Final approval is set for Dec. 16.

The property will feature an 85,000-square-foot building with 100 units and licensed for 200 beds. Officials estimate the center will have 130-140 residents when full.

A second phase of the development features 20 independent-living homes, or four to five buildings with each containing four to five units. The units are projected to be 1,000-1,500 square feet in size, with attached garages.

Amenities will include a 14-slip community boat dock and outdoor gathering areas.

Planning Manager Matt Tate, who showed pictures of a center operated by Over The Hill in Canton, said city staff and the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board recommended approval of the request with several conditions.

“We’ve done several of these (centers), the most recent one ... open for a little over eight months now,” said Brian Sticker of Over The Hill. “And it’s been at full capacity for approximately 3-4 months now.”

The company likes “to provide pretty things to look at, such as water,” he said. “That’s why this property is important to us. It’s very tranquil.”

Sticker said a proposed closing date in the project is set for Dec. 22.

“We have architects and engineers full steam ahead,” he said, adding construction plans will be submitted within 60 days.

In other business, the council voted, at the request of Gainesville lawyer Steve Gilliam, to delay hearing a rezoning request for the development of a drive-thru restaurant and small retail outlet at the intersection of Thompson Bridge Road and Virginia Circle.

The planning board had voted unanimously in November to recommend denying the request from Dr. David Johnson, a Gainesville physician.

The issue could resurface before the planning board in January and the City Council in February.