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Hospital delays plans to seek Braselton annexation
Health system waiting to address community feedback
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Northeast Georgia Health System is putting off, at least for now, possible annexation into Braselton for its South Hall campus.

The hospital system, which operates Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, had planned to seek annexation of its 119-acre River Place campus in a public hearing today before the Braselton Planning Commission.

But Northeast Georgia has decided to delay the action because of "the high volume of feedback and the complexity of the project," said spokeswoman Melissa Tymchuk.

"We have determined that we need more planning time to evaluate the system's needs relative to the new hospital and campus," she said.

The hospital held five public forums in January to seek community thoughts and feedback on the planned 100-bed hospital off what will be the new Ga. 347/Friendship Road.

One of the meetings was held at the Hall County Library System's Spout Springs branch off Spout Springs Road in Flowery Branch, the only meeting of the five held in Hall.

The meeting attracted a capacity crowd, with residents providing many suggestions and comments, from how they'd like the hospital to look to the type of services it could offer.

More than 600 people commented through the forums, Tymchuk said.

In addition, the hospital is accepting public feedback in an online survey at least through the end of February.

"We have received a tremendous response to our request for public feedback," Tymchuk said. "Initial reviews of the information show that the feedback is extremely positive. There have been some questions raised about the Braselton annexation."

She said the decision not to pursue the annexation application "at this time does not jeopardize either the availability of sewer services from the town of Braselton or the timing of the opening of the hospital or any future medical office buildings on the River Place campus."

Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Dees said the town and residents "are very pleased the hospital chose the Braselton area and we look forward to its opening."

"Quality health care options are of great benefit not just for our residents, but also our businesses," she said.

The hospital plans to open the campus in the fall of 2015.

The project's timing lines up with Georgia Department of Transportation plans to widen Ga. 347 from Interstate 985 to Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway. The hospital property would front the new road.

The DOT hopes to put the project to bid in June on the nearly 8-mile stretch.

Teri Pope, DOT's spokeswoman for the Gainesville-based District, has said the first leg of the work is expected to take place between Spout Springs Road and Ga. 211.