Update: The Hall County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, March 9, approved a 44-acre medical office park in North Hall, though not without some opposition from county residents.
Thompson Bridge Medical Park is a project of the Northeast Georgia Health System.
Margaret McGlaun, 78, told commissioners the development would amount to the “rape of Mother Nature,” worrying about its impact on the local environment and wildlife.
“We are trying to be good stewards of the space,” Brian Rochester, executive vice president of Rochester & Associates, a civil engineering company, said on behalf of NGHS.
“They want to cut down as few trees as they can,” he said of the health system, adding that the development has a relatively low density, with only 200,000 square feet of building space on 44 acres.
Original story: Northeast Georgia Health System’s latest plan to expand its facilities received unanimous approval from the Hall County Planning Commission on Monday.
The first phase of construction for the proposed 44-acre medical office park at Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 across from Thompson Bridge Commons shopping center would see Medical Plaza 1 – a 14,000-square-foot building – built on the corner of Ga. 60 and Southers Road.
The price tag for that building, if approved by county commissioners in March, is $10.5 million.
During the meeting, Brian Rochester, executive vice president of Rochester & Associates, provided further details on the project to commissioners, explaining the park would consist of a configuration of five one-and two-story buildings constructed in several phases, with a total of 200,000 square feet by completion. He said the development by design would aim to be as unintrusive as possible.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do in this plan is be very sensitive and make most of those impacts closer to the road, where we’re further away from residents in the area,” Rochester said.
Rochester told commissioners one building within the development could include a “retail component … associated with medical uses.”
The proposed park, built with a combination of stone and phenolic, corresponds with Hall County’s comprehensive plan, Rochester said, and the site could include a possible 28-bed hospice care facility as well.
Augie DeAugustinis, a resident of Lanier Village, spoke in favor of the item – though he also urged county officials to consider methods for alleviating potential traffic concerns.
“Almost everyone that I have spoken to (at Lanier Village) thus far is strongly in favor of this project,” he said. “Of course, when you have 600 senior citizens, any kind of medical services that can come closer is a plus … the medical park by itself is going to be generating a lot of traffic, but that’s in addition to over 5000 trips per day that will be going through that intersection. With all that … I’m hoping there might be some agreement by the developer on this … to talk to the DOT and make some improvements.”
Margaret McGlaun, also a resident of Lanier Village, described to commissioners her staunch opposition to the project, based primarily on her environmental philosophy and disaffection with the continued urbanization of Hall County.
“We have watched, sadly, some of Hall County’s most beautiful areas mowed down and paved over,” she said. “And the traffic, wow … there was a time when areas were not clear cut, but selectively cut, and a structure was built nestled among the trees – that hasn’t been the case for a long time. Now the bulldozer goes in, takes down every tree regardless of its age or size … I consider this, basically, raping mother nature.”
Rochester informed commissioners that the area will undergo an intersection control evaluation with GDOT as “part of the development process.”
If the development receives approval from the Hall County Commission in March, Medical Plaza 1 would become the new location of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Thompson Bridge, which would relocate from 1856 Thompson Bridge Road.
Construction on the facility would begin in the spring or summer, with a possible opening date in 2024.
County commissioners will vote on whether to rezone the property to planned office development at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9.