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Plan for Halls next 20 years rolling out this month
Community wants more housing, green space
Hall County Government Center
Hall government is set to take public comments on the comprehensive plan, a document that details goals for the county over the next 20 years.

Community Survey

The county’s community survey focused on four questions in addition to gathering general impressions. The final three allowed multiple answers, which is why the totals are greater than 100 percent:

Where should new development be discouraged?

Gainesville: McEver Road.

Murrayville-Sardis: Around the lake.

North Hall: Farm communities and green space.

East Hall: Rural and residential areas.

Chestnut Mountain-Candler: Martin Road.

South Hall: South Hall.

Where should new housing be built?

Gainesville: 32 percent support building in this area.

Murrayville-Sardis: 24 percent.

North Hall: 34 percent.

East Hall: 32 percent.

Chestnut Mountain-Candler: 30 percent.

South Hall: 36 percent.

Where should new commercial development occur?

Gainesville: 39 percent.

Murrayville-Sardis: 14 percent.

North Hall: 27 percent.

East Hall: 22 percent.

Chestnut Mountain-Candler: 18 percent.

South Hall: 34 percent.

Are there areas in need of revitalization?

Gainesville: 57 percent.

Murrayville-Sardis: 15 percent.

North Hall: 9 percent.

East Hall: 30 percent.

Chestnut Mountain-Candler: 13 percent.

South Hall: 24 percent.

Want to see more affordable housing in Hall County? What about more green spaces, a wider road or a new roundabout in your area? This month, the county is taking final comments on its guiding planning document, the comprehensive plan.

Hall County government has scheduled an open house for 6 p.m. on May 18 to take comments on the draft plan in its new form.

The document — a large, detailed collection of goals and expectations for the next two decades — will be available for public comment during the event at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting room at 2875 Browns Bridge Road.

It will be available to the public beginning May 15, said Planning Director Srikanth Yamala.

The most recent amendment to the comprehensive plan was in 2005, two years before the start of a years-long recession that changed the pace and demands of growth in the area.

This new plan amendment envisions some areas of the county being changed by growth.

“There are certain planned sewer expansions and roadway projects that redefine certain areas and corridors (with) future development,” Yamala said, noting that the plan sees a “mixture of both” unchanged and new land uses in the county.

The plan itself isn’t a binding ordinance or zoning code, he noted, but only helps “guide both the public and elected officials when it comes to future development.”

It takes into account the various municipal comprehensive plan and the comments made by the public.

Hall County’s Planning Department spent most of 2016 working on its update for the plan, including holding meetings to collect comments about what changes people want to see in the next 20 years.

Some requests have already been met — the relocation of Mincey Marble operations away from residential areas, the halt of plans to widen Martin Road — but other hopes and concerns from residents deal with long-term changes to the county.

A summary of comments received during an October 2016 meeting show that Hall County residents want green space preserved or expanded across the board.

Additionally, a summary of the county’s community survey from 2016 gives an idea of where residents want new development broken down by region: Gainesville in the center surrounded by the Murrayville-Sardis area across Lake Lanier, north Hall, east Hall, the Chestnut Mountain-Candler area and south Hall.

Some key themes emerged from the resident feedback. At the top of the list: a lack of affordable and workforce housing in the county.

From apartments to single-family homes, people said there’s not enough in the market for low-to-middle income residents.

The Gainesville Housing Authority works with residents who are unable to pay market rates for housing, but it also works with its clients to climb out of their subsidized apartments.

Therein lies the problem.

“There’s nowhere to go,” said Beth Brown, executive director of the authority. “Let’s say they’re in a four-bedroom apartment with us. They’re paying $500 a month, let’s just say. There’s nowhere for them to go that they’re not going to end up paying $1,100 a month in rent. … There’s not a good next step. There’s a very limited supply.”

Other key themes discovered in the county’s outreach include desires for road infrastructure to keep up with private development, that parks and green spaces be preserved and expanded, that planning be coordinated with cities and that economic development focus on existing commercial and industrial footprints before expanding into new territory.

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