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Oakwood is hearing from residents about comprehensive plan update
Oakwood City Hall.jpg

Relative newcomers to the Oakwood area, Mary Bach and Ruth Huelsbeck are familiar enough to know issues when they see them.

“We like the quaintness of the area,” Bach said. “We’re just concerned about losing the character, with 2,000 apartments coming in.”

“What are we going to do with all those people?” Huelsbeck said. “The streets are not ready.”

The two residents of Oakwood Springs, an active-adult community in the South Hall city, had just left a meeting where the city was getting public feedback as part of its update of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, a state-required document that serves as a blueprint for growth through initiatives and programs.

“I am excited about the museum coming,” Bach said, referring to Interactive Neighborhood for Kids’ plans to move from Gainesville to a new museum in downtown Oakwood.

The museum would serve as the centerpiece of a downtown revitalization, which also would feature new retail stores, a new community center and farmer’s market, as well as a railroad viewing station.

The city is collecting public opinions, including through an online survey, which can be found at

The plan is to present updated maps and information, such as detailed initiatives, to Oakwood City Council in May, city planner Dan Schultz said.

The updates, once approved by the council, will be sent to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Once the state gives its OK, the updates will come back to the council for final approval in June, Schultz said.

Growth has been a major challenge for the city, with several large developments, including a new Honda dealership and an expansion of King’s Hawaiian bakery on the City Council’s April 11 agenda alone.

Around the city, warehouses are being proposed or built, and 2,000 apartments could be “built over the next couple of years,” City Manager B.R. White has said.

“This planning process is designed to ensure that major projects and policies for the community are developed with public input,” states a press release from the city.

As part of the plan update, “there will be multiple opportunities for public input, beginning with the public forums,” according to the city.

Later meetings “will review the needs and goals for Oakwood and what the city can do in preparation for the future.”

“I think it’s important what (the city) is doing, allowing the public to come in and learn more about what the Comprehensive Plan is doing for the community and the city,” said area resident Devin Pandy, who attended the meeting with his wife Atiya.

Like Bach and Huelsbeck, “I’m still really new to the area,” Atiya Pandy said. “But I’m recognizing that a lot of this area seems to have issues with the infrastructure. I feel like there’s a smart way to build, especially when you have such a high demand that’s coming into these cities. Cities definitely need to be prepared.”

And city officials hope they’re doing just that with the updates, especially because growth is “not slowing down,” Schultz said.