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Thursday October 22nd, 2020 10:29AM

Flowery Branch ends one rezoning effort but gives first-reading approval to a second

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

FLOWERY BRANCH – An effort to annex just over 48-acres into the city limits of Flowery Branch has been denied again. 

Capstone Acquisition’s plan to construct an eleven-building, 304-unit apartment complex on Spout Springs Road by annexing and rezoning six separate but adjoining parcels hinged on the annexation of the 2.17-acre site where the Goddard School sits.  That site (5989 Spout Springs Road) is currently in unincorporated Hall County.

School officials agreed to being annexed into the city.  That meant if the Goddard School’s property was approved for annexation the remaining five parcels would become contiguous to city limits and eligible for annexation as well.

But that pivotal request was denied unanimously, so the ensuing five requests never made it to the floor for a vote.

This saga began in May, 2019, when Capstone Property Group and Spout Springs Captial, LLC, was denied its initial annexation request by the city council; most of the opposition at that time centered on potential traffic congestion in the limited access area. 

Rich Atkinson, Flowery Branch Director of Planning and Community Development, said, “The 2019 version of this that came through last May…was 520 apartments.  That annexation was denied by city council.”

A nearly identical application was then re-submitted to the city in February, 2020, with a reduction in the number of apartment units to the current 304.  After numerous trips before the city council and delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions the request was unanimously denied Thursday evening.

City Attorney Ron Bennett said immediately after that vote, “I believe that the remaining ordinances become moot because the Goddard School would create an unincorporated island if you annexed in the other properties.”

A second much-discussed rezoning application fared better Thursday evening: a request to rezone 85-acres within Sterling on The Lake Subdivision (SOTL) for the purpose of creating a private, gated sub-subdivision with the giant community.

Atkinson re-expressed some of his uneasiness with the plan, but said his department recommended approval of the application with conditions.  “We all know Sterling on The Lake is big but it is cohesive, and creating a private, gated 214-home sub-subdivision could alter the feeling of ‘community’.”

Charles Thompson was one of three residents to express concern Thursday evening during public comment about the plan developer NNP-Looper Lake had for the site known as the Honeycutt Tract.

Thompson has lived in SOTL for only a couple of months but said he has already begun to sense the common bond he has with his neighbors.  “We all feel like one big community…that’s something really important to me…and to me putting another sub-HOA (homeowners’ association) right across the street from me and gating it off kind of defeats what I am looking for.”

After additional questions were directed by council members to the developer, and the developer’s effort to provide suitable answers, the measure was called for a vote: first reading of the rezoning request was approved unanimously and will come before the city council for a second reading on October 15th.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Flowery Branch City Council, Sterling on the Lake, annexation, Capstone, Goddard School
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