Residents raised concerns in Flowery Branch Tuesday night about a proposed 520-unit apartment complex’s impacts on schools, traffic and public safety.
Facing a map of the 62-acre, $31.5 million project, they peppered Jonathan Collins of Gainesville-based Capstone Property Group with questions at a Feb. 26 public information meeting at Flowery Branch City Hall.
“Will you exclude renters based on criminal background checks?” asked Claire Duignan, one of about 25 people surrounding Collins, at one point.
“I don’t know enough about the property management side of that,” he said.
“I think that’s a question existing residents would really like to have the answer to,” Duignan pressed.
Another topic that stirred up residents was how the complex would affect student numbers.
“You’re right. Apartments do add students to the school system,” Collins told the group.
He went on to defend the project, which would be built in two phases off Spout Springs Road and Hog Mountain Road — 260 in one phase and 260 in the other.
Some 30 acres already are zoned as part of the site but just outside city limits off Spout Springs to allow 375 apartments, he said.
In adding 25 acres to the project, or property over to Hog Mountain, Capstone has worked to “significantly drop the (overall housing) density,” Collins said.
“On top of that, we’re going to maintain a lot of the green space that’s in there currently. We’re going to reclaim a pond there now and rebuild that,” he said.
The goal “is to create a development that is a little bit less intrusive from both the traffic perspective, given the (Spout Springs Road) widening project, and as well not just come in here and clear-cut 60 acres,” Collins said.
Because of the widening of Spout Springs, possibly starting later this year, the first phase would be built off Hog Mountain Road across from Stonebridge Village shopping center.
The second phase would come later, possibly in fall 2023, and involve commercial outparcels and apartments that would be accessed off Spout Springs.
“So, for now, we’re focusing on (developing) the acreage behind the Walgreens (pharmacy),” as well as The Goddard School, Collins has said. “We’d start that relatively soon, probably spring or summer.”
The apartment complex would feature a clubhouse and swimming pool, according to city documents. Overall, some 7 acres would be developed as commercial outparcels. Two of the outparcels would be on Hog Mountain and two would be on Spout Springs, Collins has said.
Overall, the project didn’t sit well with Robert Byrd, who lives in Sterling on the Lake, a 1,000-acre subdivision about 2 miles away off Spout Springs Road.
“I think it’s awful,” said Byrd, a Gwinnett County native. “What people like about Flowery Branch is slowly being stripped away. Once apartment complexes start going in, schools take a (financial) hit.”
And apartment complexes “take a nosedive after 15 years … and the community around it starts going down as well,” he said.
A second public information session on the project is set for 6 p.m. March 5 at City Hall, which is at 5410 Pine St. A formal public hearing on the project is set for 6 p.m. March 7 before Flowery Branch City Council in City Hall.