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Looking Ahead: What does 2009 have in store for South Hall?
An area at the intersection of Hog Mountain Road and Spout Springs Road is being cleared for a planned Walgreen’s Pharmacy. The area is across the road from the recently opened Stonebridge Village and continues the commercial development of the area. - photo by Tom Reed
2009: The Year Ahead
As the last days of 2008 wane, The Times takes a look at what could lie ahead for the region in the coming year. Some of the areas we’ll be covering this week include:
Today: South Hall;
Tuesday: Education
Wednesday: Health care
Thursday: City of
Friday: Law enforcement
Saturday: Hall County
Sunday: State legislature; city of Jefferson and Jackson County.
Fast-growing South Hall may be a growth-slowing South Hall in 2009, thanks to a stalled U.S. economy.
But through a series of road and sewer projects, the area is setting itself up for a boom when the hard-hitting recession loosens its grip.

Oakwood and Flowery Branch both have sewer projects in the works, efforts that city officials expect will spur future development.

Oakwood will be working this year to build a series of lines down Winder Highway to connect with the Braselton sewer system, an $8 million project that is expected to bring 2.5 million gallons of capacity per day to Oakwood.

City Manager Stan Brown, who will spend half of 2009 for his third tour of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Air Force reservist, has said he expects work will begin on the project next year and wrap up by 2010.
Flowery Branch is looking to eventually expand its sewer plant on Atlanta Highway to 2 million gallons per day from 1 million gallons.

If voters approve a 1-cent special purpose local-option sales tax in March, the city could spend $1.3 million to build a force main and two lift stations from Cinnamon Cove townhomes, enabling an eventual takeover of the complex’s treatment plant.

Road construction will be some of the most visible work taking place next year in South Hall, particularly a $75 million reconstruction of roads around Interstate 985 and Exit 16.

The project entails widening of Mundy Mill Road and Atlanta Highway and the construction of a new interchange, Exit 17, off Atlanta Highway.

Also, motorists can expect a wider interstate crossing over Mundy Mill Road, a new northbound entrance ramp off Mundy Mill, a new southbound ramp off Exit 17 and a new northbound exit ramp onto Atlanta Highway.

The project is set for completion on Feb. 10, 2010.

“That’s going to be really big for us,” said Patti Doss-Luna, assistant city manager. “I think we’ve all known that ... the new interchange project is bringing a different type of developer to the area.”

The area is beginning to stir some big-name retailer and hotel interest.

Work is set to start this spring on the final leg of Thurmon Tanner Parkway, a 1.3-mile stretch that will run between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads.

Thurmon Tanner Parkway also figures into the city’s 2030 plans, a vision of how the city’s core center might look by that year. The four-lane road will serve as a main artery, crossing existing two-lane city streets and cutting through scads of undeveloped properties.

“I think we could see a lot of redevelopment in the Oakwood area,” Doss-Luna said. “That will be good for us.”

Flowery Branch is pursuing a traffic study at Thurmon Tanner’s southernmost tip at Phil Niekro Boulevard, with the possibility of some day teaming with Hall County in the design and construction of a newly designed, traffic light-controlled intersection.

The city also is working toward improvements on Holland Dam Road and Spout Springs Road at the entrance to the Stonebridge Village shopping center. Work could include widening a turning angle on Spout Springs and adding sidewalks to Holland Dam.

That area has boomed commercially in the past few years, including the Stonebridge and a Publix-anchored shopping centers and a Hampton Inn & Suites that just opened.

Surrounding property has been rezoned for further commercial uses, including a possible hotel next to the Hampton Inn and an office building off Old Orr Road. Grading is now under way at Spout Springs and Hog Mountain roads for a planned Walgreens pharmacy.

More downtown improvements could come through a second state Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant.

The city’s match to the $250,000 grant is $50,000, and City Manager Bill Andrew expects to hold the line on the city’s portion. The city way overspent the last Transportation Enhancement grant.
The economy’s slowdown is a steep concern.

“We’re obviously trying to cut costs wherever we possibly can,” Andrew said.

Despite how things might appear on the surface, “building starts have basically stopped,” he added.
“That revenue stream has been a real loss to us and having to cope with that has been quite difficult.”