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Residents say 'no' to proposed South Hall industrial park
Flowery Branch considering rezoning, annexing property
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A rezoning proposal to bring an industrial business park to South Hall County has stirred the ire of nearby homeowners.

People were standing in the lobby of Flowery Branch City Hall on Thursday night, as around 100 residents showed up for a public hearing on the rezoning of nearly 180 acres to light industrial.

“There are six parcels that will be rezoned and annexed; two are already in the city of Flowery Branch, and then four are currently in Hall County, so they would first be annexed and then rezoned,” said John McHenry, planning and community development director for Flowery Branch. “They are located between Mulberry Street to the north, Interstate 985 to the east, Wade Orr (Road) to the south and then Atlanta Highway, so it’s basically in that quadrant.”

One of the properties already in the city is zoned as agricultural, while the other is residential. The four parcels currently in Hall County, around 140 acres, are zoned as agricultural residential.

Twenty-two people walked to the microphone to speak at the hourlong hearing, many voicing concerns over traffic and environmental impacts from the proposed industrial park.

“We plan to live in this home for as many years as possible,” Carol Bagley, a resident of Compass Point subdivision, said at the hearing. “I love living here because of the peacefulness, the pride and the respect that people have for their homes.

“I had hoped that the land in question would be rezoned for another subdivision, but not for light industrial use,” she added. “I am concerned that the proposal to rezone the property next to Compass Point will bring unwelcome changes: noise from additional traffic, bright, constant lighting for businesses, congestion from added vehicles, especially the delivery of 18-wheeler trucks throughout the day and night.”

Many said they moved to the area for its relatively rural environment, and did not want an industrial park in that area. Some brought up the alternative of zoning the land office-professional, rather than the M-1 light manufacturing and industrial zoning.

“The applicant is complying with all the procedures as required by the city of Flowery Branch to make this application to request the rezoning and annexation,” said Jim Walters, lawyer for applicant Keith Brown. “The applicant is in the home-building business and knows a little bit about the housing and subdivision market, and doesn’t feel like light residential would be a good use for this property.

“And if you look around, you’ll see a lot of empty offices. Offices aren’t in demand like they used to be. It certainly is not considered the highest and best use of this particular piece of property.”

Council members unanimously approved the first reading of all annexation requests; Councilman Joe Anglin voted against all rezoning requests, while the remaining council members approved the first readings.

“My thing is, it just seems out of place,” said Anglin, “to stick an industrial park in that area, that close to residential facilities.

“My issue is the access from Wade Orr,” he added. “That’s my main problem that I have with this, is that we’re going to allow for a M-1 property … and the only way to get to this property is right through a main artery that has 500-600 residential homes. I’m looking at it from that perspective.”

Councilman Damon Gibbs was absent for Thursday’s proceedings.

A final vote on the annexation and rezoning requests is scheduled for the City Council’s 6 p.m. Oct. 16 meeting.

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