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Nearly 300-home subdivision may finally develop after 14 years, but these challenges remain
A subdivision rezoned for up to 300 homes in Gainesville in 2006 and never developed may be moving toward new life, with a plan to tweak lot widths and setbacks. The property at 2901 Gaines Mill Road and 3490 Eberhart Cemetery Road, northeast of Athens Highway/U.S. 129, is currently undeveloped. - photo by Jeff Gill

A subdivision rezoned for up to 300 homes in Gainesville in 2006 and never developed may be moving toward new life, with a plan to tweak lot widths and setbacks. 

Gainesville engineering firm Rochester & Associates got the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board’s approval Tuesday, Oct. 13, to make the changes, made necessary by topography challenges. 

The property at 2901 Gaines Mill Road and 3490 Eberhart Cemetery Road, northeast of Athens Highway/U.S. 129, is currently undeveloped and is heavily wooded, and it is located within the North Oconee Water Supply Watershed Protection Overlay Zone, according to a Gainesville planning report. 

The land also has “steep topography and existing streams which significantly limit the area that can be developed,” the report says. 

“In order to reduce the amount of clearing and disturbance and to avoid the steep slopes, the development follows the existing ridge lines for most of the proposed plan, which impacts the total road frontage available,” according to the report. “The proposed reduced front yard setback will provide for less grading and impervious surface area without impacting the use of the sidewalks.” 

Specifically, Rochester & Associates is looking to vary the lot widths from 75 feet to 60 feet and front yard setback requirements from 30 feet to 15 feet with a minimum 20-foot setback from the back of the sidewalk to the face of the garage. 

Plans now call for 286 homes with an amenity area, as well as access on Gaines Mill Road across from the entrance to Heritage Pointe subdivision. Houses could start being occupied in early 2022, Rochester said. 

One resident told the board he was concerned about traffic impacts, particularly at the intersection of U.S 129 and Gaines Mill Road. Area residents have pushed for a traffic light at the busy intersection.  

Rochester said he believes the intersection doesn’t meet the criteria for a traffic light. 

“My client would probably be willing to contribute toward a light – their pro rata share of it,” he said.