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South Hall cities map growth plans
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BUFORD - City managers from South Hall's four cities talked this morning about the need to work with each other for the benefit of the region.

"I think we've got a great chance to work together to make this a better place - not just the government, but the community at large," Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said.

He, along with city managers Bill Andrew of Flowery Branch and Bryan Kerlin of Buford and Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Dees, spoke to community, government and business leaders gathered as part of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's South Hall Business Coalition.

The meeting took place at the Legacy Lodge and Conference Center at Lake Lanier Islands.

Andrew said the city managers are considering reapplying for a federal grant to help with regional planning, such as transportation and water and sewer issues.

"The plan is still on paper - it just has no funding to implement it," he said. "At some point, as the economy improves, we hope to pick up some parts of that."

The city managers also talked about the effects of a weakened economy, including dropping tax digest numbers. Each spoke about modest growth and development in their cities, including plans for a new King's Hawaiian plant set to start operations this fall in Oakwood.

"Economic activity has slowed and we're probably two to three years out (before it picks up)," Kerlin said.

However, he said he believed "South Hall is well positioned for growth."

After the presentations, Chamber president Kit Dunlap asked the city managers about any plans to start including Hall County in Joint Municipal Association meetings.

The organization reformed last year, comprising city leaders as the sole members. The move essentially kicked out Hall.

Brown said "there are plenty of days in the calendar" for the cities and Hall to meet outside the association's quarterly meetings, including one held Monday night.

Plus, "there's value in (just the) cities working together," he added.