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Residents offer input on managing growth
Planned exit on I-985 draws much concern
Residents use color-coded sticker dots to identify their priorities for Hall County’s comprehensive plan update, which will guide growth through 2040. - photo by Josh Silavent

Goals of the comprehensive plan update

• Preserve the natural and cultural resources by creating designated growth areas

• Promote harmonious land use relationships through quality infill development and revitalization of established neighborhoods

• Promote economic development and improve mixed-use areas near commercial nodes

A survey is available to share ideas about the future of land use in the county:


Updates to Hall County Forward will be posted to the County’s at

Everyone knows the growth is coming.

But few know how to manage it.

And that is the crux of why Hall County officials held a public input meeting Tuesday to identify priorities and goals for the latest update to its comprehensive plan, which will guide growth in unincorporated areas through 2040.

Affordable housing, economic development, maintaining historic districts and quality of life issues were among the most pressing concerns among the 40 or so residents in attendance.

Robert Horne, for example, wants more green spaces to sustain active lifestyles and encourage healthy behaviors in young people.

Horne agreed that quality of life concerns sometimes get lost in the frenzy of commercial and residential development.

Expanding walking paths in the county, or creating a network of “Highlands to Islands” trails, are possible options being explored.

Kathy Amos, who works with senior adults in the local community, said creating new spaces for this demographic is essential given that Hall has the fourth-largest number of retirees among all counties in the state.

But developing playgrounds for seniors, which can help improve balance and coordination, as well as allowing a new model of housing for seniors to remain at home, require important zoning changes, Amos said.

The biggest concern of the night, by a large margin, was evident in the near-universal condemnation that plans to build an exit along Interstate 985 near Martin Road received.

Jody Tipton, who lives in the area, said if this comes to fruition, there will be too many exits within a six-mile stretch, resulting in major traffic congestion and overcrowded schools.

Residents used color-coded sticker dots to mark their priorities on boards listing possible needs and opportunities for the county.

The I-985 exit plans had more stickers than any other item.

The plan update could help direct investment in new community centers and parks, commercial businesses and residential development.

Demographic and other data developed as part of a regional transportation plan adopted by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization last year will serve as a foundation for the comprehensive update, officials said.

The process must be completed by June 30, 2017. But County Administrator Randy Knighton said he expects officials to approve a new comprehensive plan by next April or May after additional public meetings. 

The plan was last updated in 2004.

An online survey, which has already been filled out by more than 100 residents, is available and neighborhood associations are asked to participate.

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