GAINESVILLE - The second time was the charm for the developer of a major commercial and residential project near the Gateway Industrial Park on Highway 365 at the Hall County Planning Commission's final meeting of the year Monday night.
A month ago commissioners told BarkerStreet LLC developer Patrick Clark from Marietta, Ga. they needed more answers about traffic access, school impact, and apartment density. They got their answers this time, voting 3-1 to approve the 476 acre rezoning from agricultural to Planned Commercial and Planned residential.
Bo Brooks did not like Clark's answer on density. He cast the single no vote.
"The density of the apartments is just two strong and aggressive for that area of Hall County at this time in my opinion," Brooks said. "I don't think we're ready for the density that they're asking for yet."
Brooks said the total multi-family density commissioners approved was almost eight units an acre with a total of 320 multi- family units, mostly in apartments, with some town homes. John Hemmer and his son Lee also opposed the apartment phase of the project, saying it was too close to their 200 year old cattle farm.
"We don't have an issue with the development as a whole except for the apartments," Lee Hemmer said. "This isn't south Forsyth County, this is east Hall, and the apartments they have planned are right up against our property line,and we just don't feel like 300 apartments is appropriate; it's just too dense, it's just the wrong location and the wrong time."
Clark pointed out that the distance between the apartments and the Hemmer farm was over a third of a mile, a 'pretty good distance away'. Clark added that BarkerStreet would agree to a condition adding a six foot black vinyl chain link fence around the perimeter to further discourage wandering by either cows or people, and Clark argued for the density.
"The number that we have is a good number," Clark said. "We think it's a solid number and in my professional opinion, I would say the number is actually low."
Clark estimated ground breaking for the project in early 2015, and the total build-out, start to finish, would take about seven years, through 2020.
"That's our best guess at this time which would include multi-family, single family, and the commercial," Clark told Chairman Don Smallwood.
"Gateway Village" as proposed would be a mixed-use community with 496 residential units including 186 single family lots, recreational amenities, 25 percent open space and 600,000 square feet of commercial and office space.
"This is going to come in stages," Smallwood said. "It is a good development. Apartments always give us heart burn but I think where they are they are shielded pretty good from the Hemmer property."
Commissioner Chris Braswell made the approval motion and added installing the six foot fence at the developer's expense as a condition as well as the county's agricultural statement which basically advises newcomers to expect the sights, sounds and smells of farming near their homes. Hall Commissioners have the final say on BarkerStreet's rezoning request at their meeting December 12th.