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Can Clermont balance growth with small-town feel? Residents, planners discuss town’s future
Clermont city sign

Clermont is starting its next five-year plan, and more than a dozen residents attended a meeting Tuesday night, March 29, to voice their thoughts about their town. 

Adam Hazell, planning director of Georgia Mountain Regional Commission, said some of the key issues for Clermont over the next five years would likely be the completion of the inland port, how the Georgia Department of Transportation prioritizes certain projects such as widening Cleveland Highway and the recent population growth in Hall County. 

The comprehensive plan is like a “business plan” for the city, Hazell said, and it will help guide decisions over the next five years. Citizen comments are crucial for the planning process and will have a major impact on how the plan is drafted, which regions might be desired for changes and what residents want to stay the same. 

Residents said they would like to see efforts to keep truck traffic out of Clermont’s downtown, growth confined to the Highway 129 corridor and maintain the town’s rural character. 

“I love Clermont infinitely, and that’s why we moved up here from the suburbs,” said Danielle Iglehart, who moved to the town from Cumming in 2020. 

The growth in Forsyth County became too much, Iglehart said, and she would like to see the town preserve much of its current character. She also suggested trying to designate certain downtown buildings as historical sites. 

“Preservation is really important to me, of some of the really darling and quaint attributes that we have here as a small town,” Iglehart said. “Being a small town, we should have a better understanding of what all of our ‘townies’ need, because there’s so few of us.”

Sandra Cantrell, a real estate agent who lives in Clermont, said growth is coming and some of it is already present, and turning onto 129 with its constant traffic is already an issue. 

Ethan and Aubrie Pilcher recently moved to the Clermont area to be closer to family, and enjoy knowing most people near them, they said. Ethan Pilcher said he grew up in Flowery Branch, and it already has changed since he was young. 

“It used to be like you knew everybody going to restaurants and the grocery store,” he said. “And now you go to the store and (do) not know anybody in there.” 

Aubrie Pilcher suggested using the park or other downtown areas as community gathering spaces more often. Keeping local businesses in the town and national chains out would also be a priority, she said. 

The town will hold two more public meetings for the comprehensive plan on April 18 and May 16. Those meetings will be opportunities for a deeper dive into town issues, and a citizen survey is available now on Clermont’s website.