FLOWERY BRANCH – First reading approval was given by the Flowery Branch City Council Thursday evening to a rezoning application that will bring 65 new townhomes and 26,400-square feet of commercial space to an 11.34-acre site at the southwest corner of McEver Road and Gainesville Street.
Rezoning requests, annexation applications, zoning variances and special use permits are standard fare at almost every Flowery Branch City Council meeting. Quite simply, the city is experiencing a building boom, and at most meetings land-use applications dominate the city council agenda.
“Thirty-one percent of all the houses built in the entire county last year were built within Flowery Branch,” City Manager Bill Andrew told city council members two weeks ago. “We’re obviously a much smaller land mass than thirty-one percent.”
Also present at those city council meetings are expressions of concern about the burgeoning population growth from citizens, and even on occasion, city employees.
At the February 4th city council meeting Flowery Branch Police Chief David Spillers told city council members that his department was struggling to keep up with the pace of growth and the challenges that come with the spotlight that seems to be focused on this one-time sleepy city.
Virgil Welch, the city’s new Water/Waste Water Department Director, told council members Thursday evening that the construction of a new waste treatment plant presently underway couldn’t wrap up soon enough.
“As the city grows and we add on more apartments and businesses I’m really concerned,” Welch said, pointing out that the existing waste treatment facility is working over capacity. “We really need to get the ball rolling as far as the new plant (is concerned).”
City Councilman Ed Asbridge said during Thursday’s meeting that new housing units in the city are being purchased as fast as they are built. “Those sites are selling before they can get the (For Sale) signs up, they’re selling so fast over there,” Asbridge said during discussion of one development still under construction.
And it’s not just on the outskirts of Flowery Branch that record growth is taking place. A visit to the historic downtown area will show that Main Street is “a hardhat area”, being totally renovated.
One rezoning application brought before the city council Thursday evening involved a request for reduced property line setbacks in an already-developed area of town. Sheila Grine of Morrow Drive said the applicant’s request to build houses using 5-foot setbacks was unacceptable.
Grine told council members during the online meeting that she lives next door to the proposed construction site and, “In today’s COVID situation, five feet, that’s not even social distancing.”
Grine said she and her family preferred more space between their house and the house next door. “How is that fair to someone who has lived in the city for over twenty years,” Grine asked.