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Why Oakwood officials are worried about their share of next round of SPLOST money
Oakwood City Hall.jpg

As Hall County begins looking at a future round of potential SPLOST projects, Oakwood is concerned its lack of residential growth in recent years might hurt the South Hall city financially. 

“I’ve learned that the city is … the smallest growth city in Hall County, as far as residential (numbers are) concerned,” Mayor Lamar Scroggs said to Oakwood City Council on Monday, Nov. 12.

He made the comment during the council’s discussion of a proposed 107-unit townhome complex off McEver and Flat Creek roads. The council ended up voting down the project, with Councilman Stephen Hendrix saying the complex “doesn’t meet our (comprehensive land-use) plan.”

The voter-approved special purpose local option sales tax program, commonly known as SPLOST, helps fund public projects around the county, with each government getting funding based on population.

The current SPLOST VII was approved in 2015 for five years.

“We are in the process of organizing a meeting with elected officials from the county and its municipalities regarding SPLOST VIII, and (we) hope to schedule that meeting by the end of this year,” Hall spokeswoman Katie Crumley said.

She said the 2017 census “is the source we will be using to prepare for this upcoming meeting.”

Oakwood had 3,970 residents in the 2010 census and a population estimate of 4,148 in 2017, or less than a 5 percent increase, according to census data. 

By comparison, Flowery Branch in South Hall had 5,679 residents in the 2010 census and a population estimate of 7,477 in 2017, a nearly 32 percent increase.

“We know if our population grows at a slower rate than the other cities in the county, then we are likely to receive a lesser percentage on the next SPLOST than what we have now,” City Manager Stan Brown said.

The city has prided itself on having a tax base largely footed by its commercial and industrial sector. In the last couple of years, however, officials have committed to attracting more residential growth.

Housing projects are starting to develop, and 2018 has been the year of residential rezonings in both Oakwood and Flowery Branch.

Just a few of the developments approved or starting construction this year are a 255-home single-family detached home and townhome development off McEver Road across from West Hall High School, a 158-home townhome complex off Mountain View and Meeks roads in Oakwood and a 131-home active adult community off McEver and Old Flowery Branch roads in Oakwood.

And though it rejected the townhome complex Monday, Oakwood City Council approved in the same meeting a 348-unit apartment complex off Mundy Mill Road.