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Hotel, restaurant, apartments on busy Gainesville planning agenda

Public meeting

What: The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board will hear several variance and annexation requests.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Gainesville Justice Center, 701 Queen City Parkway

Gainesville’s residential and commercial growth continues to surge, judging by items under consideration Tuesday night by the the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board.

The board will consider proposals for a new Golden Corral restaurant, a Marriott hotel off Flat Creek and a 110-unit active adult community.

Spring Road Group is hoping to annex 10 acres off Spring Road and McEver Road, near Gainesville Exploration Academy, for the adult community.

Fifty units are proposed within a three-story apartment building, and 60 units would be attached two-bedroom units with one-car garages. The complex proposes several amenities, including a swimming pool, tennis court and community house.

City planning staff recommends approval of the project.

“Given the proposal is for an active adult community, there will be less of an impact on the surrounding properties and the Gainesville City School System than if the property were developed as a traditional multi-family apartment complex,” states a city report.

Gainesville also recommends approval of a variance request involving the proposed Golden Corral, which would replace — and would be twice the size of — the longstanding Folks restaurant off Browns Bridge Road.

Bryan Day of Hoschton is asking that setbacks from Brown Bridge and Pearl Nix Parkway be reduced and the number of allowed parking spaces drop to 19 from 88.

Day “states the remaining spaces will be shared parking spaces within the adjacent shopping center,” the proposal says.

The front entrance of the proposed building would face the shopping center.

Basically, because the Golden Corral would be much bigger than the existing restaurant, a variance is required.

City officials also have recommended approval of a variance for a proposed Marriott TownePlace Suites.

The proposed four- to six-story hotel would be nestled in a corner lot just south of Fairfield Inn and Suites and Hilton Garden Inn, which are behind a row of restaurants off Browns Bridge Road, west of Pearl Nix Parkway.

It also would be off Flat Creek, an urban waterway that flows into Lake Lanier. The creek, which has a history of pollution and water quality issues, has been long monitored by Gainesville.

And it was environmental concerns that delayed government action in May, as applicant Aneesh Patel is asking the city to relax its distance requirement on building off Flat Creek from 75 feet to 25 feet.

“We want people to come to Gainesville and invest, but we also want to protect our natural resources,” said Jane Fleming, a Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board member, at the previous meeting.

She asked that Patel return with more details on “how the site preparation … could preserve all the things we’ve accomplished with Flat Creek and keep it from getting worse.”

City officials have said they’re OK with the development as long as the developer provides “a detailed landscape mitigation plan for the disturbed area within the 75-foot stream buffer,” documents state.

The proposal has drawn opposition from several people, including Janet Westervelt, headwaters outreach manager for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group.

She questioned the need “for this hotel to be built in this location and stressing Flat Creek, which, as we all know, is a very stressed stream, at this point.”