John McHenry said one of his main goals as Flowery Branch city planner is redevelopment of the historic city center.
McHenry was named to the role in May after the former city planner, James Riker, left to be planning director for the city of Duluth in January.
“There is already a lot that has been done,” McHenry said. “... We have a growing area down here.”
At its Thursday meeting, the Flowery Branch City Council approved Pond & Co., an architectural, engineering and planning firm, to conduct the downtown redevelopment plan and market analysis.
McHenry started work on that selection process before he was even officially on the job, according to Bill Andrew, Flowery Branch city manager.
Andrew said McHenry was an obvious choice for city planner because of his background as senior transportation planner at the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization and as program director with the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.
During his tenure in Gwinnett, McHenry was responsible for managing road projects, such as transit and intersection improvements, as well as zoning, grant submissions and code enforcement.
“The fact that he has experience in the community made him my choice for city planner,” Andrew said.
McHenry and Andrew said they both believe development is crucial to the Flowery Branch economy.
“A lot of people don’t see development as a sense of employment but it is. It’s a way to improve our economy,” said Andrew, noting that with the expansion of subdivisions and the buying of properties, more economic value is brought to the city.
According to McHenry, the biggest challenge he believes he will face is making sure that downtown Flowery Branch is built to last.
“There are always some challenges; but that’s the fun,” he said. “There is no doubt that there is going to be development, but we want to make sure that we have the best development that is going to last and last.”
According to Andrew, all available space on Main Street is filled and there is interest in other properties in the Old Town area, which includes many buildings dating to the 1900s.
“We have great bones here with just having such a beautiful area,” McHenry said. “We want to build off of what’s here.”