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Gainesville council gives initial OK to Ahaluna development
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Gainesville City Council  gave the initial OK on Tuesday night for the development of a 199-lot upscale subdivision off Dawsonville Highway,  near the shores of Lake Lanier, after several concessions were made to area residents opposed to the size of the development.

In a unanimous vote, council approved the development with several new conditions, including a reduction in the number of homes to be built and additional environmental controls, which were hashed out between West Ahaluna LLC, a local developer with ties to America’s Home Place, and residents of the Ahaluna Heights and Lakeshore Heights neighborhoods.

But residents still object to the fact no traffic mitigation improvements are required. They said a new entrance to the subdivision is needed and that turn lanes are necessary at the intersection of Ahaluna Drive and Dawsonville Highway.

The development is proposed for build-out in three phases over 15 years.

Residents expressed concern that changes could made to the development plans within that time frame, though city planning officials said any changes would have to be voted on by the council.

Council members said they tried to find compromise between the developer and area residents, hoping for a win-win situation.

But residents, while thankful for the concessions made by the developer, said they needed assurances that public safety vehicles, school buses and other service providers would not be negatively impacted by the lack of traffic improvements.

Council will have to wait before giving a second and final vote needed for the development to break ground.

Hall County has filed a formal objection  because, officials said, the annexation needed for the development to proceed will effectively create an island scenario where duplicate services are provided.

An arbitration hearing must be held and a decision on the matter made by the state Department of Community Affairs before the council can vote again.

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