FLOWERY BRANCH - Flowery Branch citizens Tuesday night came out to look at a re-development plan aimed at making their downtown the 'Gem of South Hall County'.
They filled the historic rail depot to hear Joel Reed from Pond and Company Consultants of Atlanta detail the plan. He said citizens meeting and working together were the planners.
"This plan is based on community inputs," Reed said. "For the plan to be successful it needs to based on what the community wants, so this is a community based plan."
Among other things, Flowery Branch Old Town would keep its small town, historic feel; by 2015-2020 a new city hall/ community center would meet the need for municipal office space and stimulate redevelopment. A revitalized downtown would mix retail, restaurants, civic uses and housing with sidewalks and streetscapes.
Consolidating in the proposed 17,000 square foot municipal building to locate on Railroad Avenue would free up 6,481 square feet for Main Street retailers and developers. Eighteen town houses are envisioned for that grassy acreage up the street, the former site of the Mooney Manufacturing Plant at the corner of Main and Gainesville Streets.
"The city has a comprehensive plan and some of the concepts in here have already been thought about by the city and the community," Reed added. "The city wanted to see re-development happen and the plan is in place to take the steps to do that."
Mike Pitts, a Flowery Branch native, agreed, saying he thinks the plan is just what the city needs, but he also wants to see the city become a place for music performances.
"I'd like to see a venue for music and theatre and things of that nature," Pitts said. "I'd like to see the dock rebuilt at the city park. We're the closest to the lake of any city I know of, the city by the lake."
Reed pointed out that the plan takes the city's lake location into account, with an improved park at the lake and more connectivity to the lake from Old Town.
Flowery Branch City Council is scheduled to consider the plan next month. Mayor Pro Temp Joe Anglin said he believes Council is on board with it.
"We're all looking at this as being something for the future of Flowery Branch," Anglin said. "It's a plan that we want to make sure gets accomplished."
Revenue from TAD, the Tax Allocation District, SPLOST, the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, LOST, the Local Option Sales Tax and private partnerships are possible sources of revenue. Planning and Community Development Director John McHenry said grant money is another source.
"That's definitely a potential, particularly for some of the road projects," McHenry said. "We're actually currently looking at a grant opportunity."
McHenry told the audience that the plan is a beginning; its laying the foundation, the groundwork.
"It's like eating an elephant piece by piece," he observed. "We're going to start with some of the smaller measures but we've had a lot of positive re-enforcement from the community, so we want to see some of these retail projects move into larger projects with building and growth. You've got to have a framework to get there and that's what this is going to give us."