A vote on a large mixed-use development is on hold until next month after members of the Hall County Planning Commission voiced some concerns with the plan.
A 476-acre proposed project across from the Gateway Industrial Centre on Ga. 365 was tabled Monday night after commissioners said they were uneasy with the density of apartment units and the limited road access to homes.
Gateway is a 500-acre industrial park currently under development in North Hall County.
Barker Street LLC President Patrick Clark said the Gateway Village project would be a critical complement to the industrial park because it would add restaurants, stores and housing convenient for future workers there.
The proposal calls for 572,000 square feet of retail and commercial development that would mostly front Ga. 365, plus a 280-unit apartment complex, 30 townhouses and 186 homes.
The complex would be built near the commercial area and would be accessed from an interior road that would connect to the primary road.
However, the single-family neighborhood would be on the south side of the North Oconee River, which crosses the land from east to west.
“The applicant is dedicated to continuing their established tradition of good and responsible stewardship and view the success of this project as a very important contribution to Hall County, as well as a meaningful addition to their real estate legacy,” Clark said.
The land is owned by Hall TLP&G, LLLP.
The homes would be accessible only from a primary corridor off Ga. 365. The lack of streets connecting homes inside that area would limit the travel of cars and people, the county staff report said.
Commissioner Johnny Varner questioned the road access because, he said, if the river flooded or a disaster happened, residents could have difficulty getting out.
“I’m really concerned about the one way in, especially with the terrain that’s here,” Varner said. “There’s no way out. You’d basically have to hike your way out.”
Planning staff had approved the project with almost a dozen conditions, including developers installing a street network between secondary roads in the proposed single-family area, but Clark said that condition would interfere with the 25 percent of green space developers had created inside the development.
Recreational amenities may include extensive walking trails, parks, ponds and facilities for tennis and swimming, Clark said.
Commissioner Chris Braswell said he was concerned with the density of the apartment complex and asked the developers if they would consider reducing the units. Clark said the complex would have three stories in the back and two stories in the front, which is reflective of typical complexes in Atlanta.
“This isn’t Atlanta,” Braswell said.
One person spoke in favor of the project, and two people, a mother and son, spoke in opposition. Jane and Lee Hemmer own adjacent land that has remained in their family for generations. Jane Hemmer said she appreciated the open-space planning and the environmental protections the plan included, but she asked if the development could be scaled down.
The project could be serviced by a Hall County wastewater treatment plant that’s planned to service the industrial park.
The proposed development has 51 acres in open space for the plant if it’s built.
The development is scheduled for further consideration by the planning commission at the Dec. 2 meeting.