Job-creating corridors, construction hot spots, green spaces — there are big changes coming to Hall County in the next two decades.
On Thursday, county government released a close-to-final draft of its updated comprehensive plan, the guiding document for planning and zoning that lays out how planners expect the county to grow in the next 20 years.
The latest update relies on some new concepts, including corridors along major roads through the county — Interstate 985, Ga. 53 and similarly critical roads.
These areas create roadside businesses that the county sees supporting different aspects of life in the area. Dawsonville Highway is a “lake supportive corridor” that will likely see growth geared toward life on Lake Lanier.
Through Flowery Branch and into Gainesville, Ga. 13 is in different sections an “employment corridor,” meaning it’s expected to continue attracting job-creating industry, and a “mixed-use corridor” that will include apartments, retailers and other daily-life businesses.
In some cases, those economic development corridors stretch into areas that are currently residential — including between Gainesville and Clermont.
“You don’t want people having to drive across the county — you’ve got to offer them retail,” said Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibbs on Thursday. “So I think you’re going to see the face of North and East Hall County change over the next 10 years because the growth is coming.”
Six “activity centers” have been identified in the plan. They’re mostly located in major intersections where development is either already taking place or where it’s ripe, according to County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala. There are centers identified in every region of the county.
The county itself has been broken into general land uses: conservation, rural, rural residential, residential and lake area residential.
In general, East Hall is considered rural; Southeast and South Hall are rural residential and residential, respectively; Southwest and West Hall are lake area residential, and North Hall is rural residential. Much of the land slated for conservation is on the Lake Lanier shore.
These land uses fit within the county’s planning guidelines for home density and other uses, but Yamala noted the plan’s map takes a general view of each area.
John Girardeau, a local judge, board chairman for the Elachee Nature Science Center and an advocate for green spaces in the county, said he was heartened to see the government making a more deliberate effort to protect green spaces.
The comprehensive plan calls for a formal process of evaluating areas for “permanent protection” as green space.
“Green space is good for our health, it’s good for our economics and it’s good for our mental health,” Girardeau said on Thursday.
He pointed to Atlanta’s BeltLine — a “planned loop of rails, trails and green space,” according to its website — and the development of apartments and restaurants along it evidence that preserving green areas brings cash into communities.
The county will accept comments on the comprehensive plan until June 5, according to Yamala. It will be presented to the Hall County Board of Commissioners for review on June 15.