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Joint planning money falls through
4 towns applied for federal grant
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Flowery Branch, Oakwood, Braselton and Buford have lost out on a federal grant that could have provided as much as $1 million to pay for a joint planning effort.

"Some consolation may be that no one in Georgia was awarded a grant and we know of several that applied," said Guy W. Herring of McFarland-Dyer & Associates in Suwanee in an e-mail to the city managers.

Herring was working with the cities to seek the Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"We believe the application was strong and the design and implementation proposed for the consortium a viable one, should we want to proceed under our own initiative," Herring said.

"We have contacted both HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) and (the government-run) for feedback on our specific application and will forward that to you when we get it."

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the four cities "are going to discuss the possibility of still working on some issues to coordinate our future development plans."

"Obviously, not having these funds will hinder our abilities to some degree," he added.

Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Dees agreed.

"While disappointing, because we thought our project was outstanding, we always knew there was a chance we would not be chosen," she said. "We will continue to work ... to provide the best planning efforts for all our citizens into the future."

As part of its efforts, McFarland-Dyer had produced a detailed map of South Hall that shows major roads, key landmarks (such as Lake Lanier), city limits, education and job centers, recreation spots, existing and future greenways, and low- to moderate-income housing areas.

The map depicts a swath extending from Browns Bridge Road near Gainesville to Buford's southernmost border. It also shows parts of other counties - such as Gwinnett - where Buford and Braselton also are part of.

Grant money would have paid "for very detailed planning that would drive ... the location of schools, roads, improvement of intersections, and location of water and sewer lines," Andrew said in July.

In essence, the effort "would be a way of folding in all our comprehensive plans where they make sense to work together on various infrastructure and job creation efforts," he added.

HUD awarded $100 million of the planning grants nationwide, but none in Georgia.

Many of the governments snagging money were large, such as the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston and the Regional Plan Association in New York.

"The agencies appear to be a bit more mature in their organization," Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said. "... We really have never formed a consortium yet - that was part of the process."

He also believed that the four area cities could continue to develop a regional plan.

"The same ideas we had in applying for the grant still stand," Brown said.