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Property owners hope South Hall rezoning will end troubled investment
Spout Springs Road proposal latest in area development
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Owners have asked that two Spout Springs Road properties be rezoned as commercial so they can recoup their investments. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Spout Springs Road in Flowery Branch is in many ways a developer’s dream. The South Hall thoroughfare, particularly between Hog Mountain and Friendship roads, is growing rapidly as residents and big-box retailers alike pour into the area, stretching the meaning of Atlanta’s suburban sprawl.

An abundance of available, undeveloped land, coupled with easy access to Interstate 985, makes the area rich with potential. But growth comes at a price, and some fear reduced quality of life is the associated cost.

For example, residents of Sterling on the Lake and other nearby neighborhoods turned out at a Hall County Planning Commission meeting in early February to express their opposition to a proposed mixed-use development along Spout Springs Road. The planning board recommended the Board of Commissioners deny the project — which called for a 352-unit apartment complex and 5,000 square feet of commercial retail space — out of concerns the developer, KHTW, hadn’t done enough to mitigate the impact construction would have on the local community.

Stacie Sloan and her husband, Mack, however, are hoping they can cash in on the area’s growth trend by rezoning two nearby residential properties to allow for commercial development. But residents of the area will find this isn’t the typical proposal they’ve seen before.

The two properties, at 6336 and 6340 Spout Springs Road, total only about 1.5 acres, and currently consist of two homes. If developed for commercial use (the rezoning proposal calls for suburban-shopping), the properties would likely turn into small strip malls. Still, a lot remains “way up in the air,” Stacie Sloan said.

“We haven’t really decided exactly what we’re going to do with it yet,” she added. “We just know that it’s a good area to go commercial.”

The Sloans have held onto the property for several years, biding their time until the recession passed and the climate was right to either develop the property through their limited liability company, Lanier Investment, or sell it to another developer. The two properties are currently listed for sale at a total of $450,000.

“We bought it years ago hoping to resell it,” Stacie said, “and, of course, that’s when the economy went down.”

Like many other investors, the Sloans appear to have gotten caught in the housing and development bubble of the mid-2000s that made a fortune for those who got out before the bust, but dearly cost those who didn’t.

Stacie Sloan said she manages a doctor’s office, while her husband is a physician. The two are not prototypical developers, and appear to have little appetite for entering the industry now. Instead, they want out of a deal gone bad, and hope an improving economy holds potential for the land as a commercial property.

Stacie called their foray into the property development business a “lesson learned.”

The Hall County Planning Commission will vote on whether to rezone the property when it meets at 5:15 p.m. March 3 at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

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