Going from community activist to Hall County Planning Commission member won’t be a stretch for South Hall’s Gina Pilcher.
“I would really like to make a positive difference in the growth that we know is inevitable in Hall County,” she said Tuesday, Dec. 18. “We need to work on quality growth and try to find a fair balance.”
Pilcher, 57, was appointed Thursday, Dec. 13, by the Hall County Board of Commissioners to fill a vacant seat on the planning board. The planning board lost a veteran member this month, when Chairman Don Smallwood retired after 21 years.
The planning board, which makes recommendations on rezoning matters to the Board of Commissioners, will vote on a new chairperson at its Jan. 7 meeting, according to Srikanth Yamala, the county’s planning director.
Before Pilcher, a Hall County native, got involved in community affairs, she was “a small business owner, full-time mom, in the car going in circles, that kind of thing. I had other things to pay attention to.”
And then came Martin Road.
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans to build an interchange off Interstate 985 between Flowery Branch and Oakwood ignited a “Stop Exit 14” movement and otherwise a huge outcry from residents, including Pilcher.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” she said. “I’ve spent the last 2 ½ years attending different meetings getting a feel for what’s going on in other places, what the options are, what other people think.”
The Martin Road situation evolved into a group of residents, Martin Road Stakeholders, meeting with county officials to work out differences.
Even though the interchange project moved forward, and is now well under construction, the county removed a project to widen to four lanes Martin Road from Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 to Winder Highway. Officials also agreed to put up stop signs and install a roundabout on Martin.
Pilcher has moved on to other concerns.
She spoke out in November when Oakwood City Council was considering a 107-unit townhome complex off McEver and Flat Creek roads.
The density of 9 units per acre “may be a little higher than what we would want to consider,” Pilcher told the council.
More recently, she spoke out when the planning board was considering a 279-lot subdivision at the intersection of LJ Martin Drive and Ponderosa Farm Road in South Hall.
“For us to keep taking our land and making it (planned residential developments) is a misuse of what we have in the south end,” Gina Pilcher said. “We need to start to slow that growth to the point where we can maintain some of our ruralness.”
On a more political front, Pilcher lost in May to Mark Pettitt in a bid for the Republican nomination for the Hall County school board race to represent Post 2 in South Hall.
Recent community experiences aren’t all that Pilcher will lean on as she moves into her new role.
“My background is in architecture ... and I’ve been in the construction business for (about) 30 years,” she said.