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Meeting will help Braselton prepare for next couple decades
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BRASELTON — Participants attending Braselton’s comprehensive plan meeting helped nail down how future development types in three areas of town should be designed and implemented.

More than 20 people attended the meeting where representatives from Urban Collage Inc., Market + Main and JJ&G announced the results of a survey distributed to attendees at last month’s meeting.

The firms are helping mold Braselton’s 20-year plan, which the town began working on in October 2008. Braselton must complete the $150,000 document by October 2010, though the plan will likely be done sometime this fall.

The plan will serve as Braselton’s "legal instrument by which the town makes planning and development decisions," according to Eric Bosman, associate principal with Urban Collage.

The survey, distributed at the April 14 meeting, asked people what development types they wanted to see built in Braselton over the next 20 years.

Using these results, the firms established eight "character areas" in town, three of which were identified as "priority areas," said Bosman.

These priority areas include the historic downtown area, the Ga. 211 and Thompson Mill "activity center," and the "Braselton Gateway," involving the Ga. 211 and Interstate 85 interchange in Barrow County.

Each area, said Bosman, has the potential to incorporate very different development types.

In the historic downtown area, preserving historical buildings and making sure new development remains historically compatible and pedestrian friendly, are attributes people want to see, he said.

Development at the "activity center" at Ga. 211 and Thompson Mill Road will likely be
fueled by the proposed hospital and Chateau Elan.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center, based in Gainesville, has plans to build a 100-bed hospital off Thompson Mill Road by 2012.

Northeast Georgia is involved in a court battle with Barrow Regional Medical Center in Winder, which has argued that the proposed hospital would threaten its continued existence.

Litigation aside, Lakey Boyd of Market + Main said the planned hospital has the potential to bring a lot of jobs and medical office space to the area.

This, she said, makes the area an ideal spot for multi-family dwellings for those working in that area.

Bosman added that this area would also be the best place to develop a "walkable, mixed-use integrated activity center," where people can park and walk to several different businesses, offices or shops.

Retail development, including "big box" stores such as Target or Lowes will likely find a good fit around the "Braselton Gateway," according to Boyd.

While truck stops and fast food restaurants sometimes clog interchange areas, Bosman said the town’s leaders and others "have a much greater vision for this area."

The recession has lessened the likelihood that developments like these will be built soon, but this will allow Braselton more time to plan for these changes, according to Bosman.

"It’s important to set the vision of what you want that to be when the time is right for that to happen," he said.

Regardless of what development occurs, Bosman said that people want the town’s priorities to include encouraging quality design and development, enhancing the town’s identity and sense of community, balancing land uses, making transportation improvements where needed and protecting the natural environment.

Now, the main focus will be to develop a method for meeting the visions for these identified areas and priorities, he said.

"What we’re all about is trying to maintain and enhance the quality of life and the value that’s been created here in the town of Braselton."

A fourth public meeting is scheduled for sometime late this summer or early this fall, Bosman said.

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