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Sterling on the Lake housing plan draws fire
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Flowery Branch City Council decided Thursday night to put off a decision concerning proposed changes to a development described as Sterling on the Lake subdivision's "front door."

"I think there's still a lot of things out there that (residents) aren't aware of, and maybe if they're brought to light, there might be an understanding of what (the developer) is trying to do here," Councilman Joe Anglin said.

He suggested that the developer, Newland Communities, could use the extra time to further explain and clarify its plans to residents.

Newland mainly is proposing to reduce the minimum size of a section of homes near the entrance to the subdivision from 1,400-1,500 square feet to 1,300 square feet and allow for single-story homes.

"We don't want to lose the buyers right now that we're seeing ... in good numbers that are asking for a single-story home in that ($150,000 to $180,000) price range," said Patrick Clark, Newland vice president and general manager.

Sterling is a 1,000-acre development off Spout Springs, Capitola Farm and Blackjack roads, featuring a lake, clubhouse and other amenities.

Gordon Grass, member of the board of directors for Sterling's homeowners association, said he believes that "if it's necessary (for Newland) to build small homes, there must be a better location in our subdivision than at our front door."

He received applause from several residents at the meeting.

"My concern is that this is being rushed through," said Bob Lester, another resident."... We have not had a chance to see the drawings. ... I have concerns about trying to cram a ranch (house) into a small lot."

Aside from that, Sterling residents "are all rooting" for Newland to sell homes in a tough economy.

Newland "wasn't trying to do something too quickly, but time is of the essence," Clark said of the issue's timing. "We want to have this product to go forward in the spring market."

"Everybody has an investment in this community," Clark said. "All of us are stakeholders. Our plan is to be in that community until 2021.

"I would suggest that we would be the last people to do anything that we thought would compromise the integrity of the front door of that community, either architecturally, product or price."

The matter is scheduled to go back before the council on March 8. A second vote could take place at the March 15 meeting.