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City council discusses road projects, impact fees for mixed-use development
Sawnee Village
Plans for the proposed Sawnee Village between Dahlonega Highway and Pilgrim Mill Road.

Members of the Cumming City Council discussed a potential agreement to fund road projects with developers of a planned mixed-use development in the city.

At the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20, City Attorney Kevin Tallant went over a proposed impact fee agreement with Providence Group of Georgia, developers of Sawnee Village, a mixed-use project planned on 152 acres between Hwy. 9 and Pilgrim Road. 

No action was taken during the work session, and the agreement will likely be voted on at the next council meeting.

Tallant said the agreement would mean Providence Group would pay for road projects for the development up front and would receive a credit for impact fees, or charges paid by developers to cover the cost of increased demand on infrastructure, services and amenities.

“The total idea behind this is that it’s an impact fee credit,” Tallant said. “Whereas instead of this developer paying impact fees to us for us to use on whatever projects around the city, this is one where they are going to be implementing some needed improvements to our transportation system, and they will be paying for them, so they will get an impact fee credit for that.”

Tallant said three projects would be part of the agreements: two phases of a project to Extend Sawnee Drive from its current end at Hwy. 9 to Pilgrim Mill Road and traffic improvements on Hwy. 9 near Cumming Elementary School.

Costs for the project won’t be known until bids come in.

“They’re paying for this project with the money that they will be paying for impact fees,” Tallant said. “They’ve already paid for the design of the project. Once it goes to bid, we will then have the final numbers in terms of what it’s going to cost, then they pay that before the project begins.”

If costs for the projects are lower than what the developer would pay impact fees, the developer will still pay the remainder toward impact fees, and if the project is more than the fees, the city will pay the rest, Tallant said. 

In January, the council voted to rezone 152 acres between Dahlonega Highway and Pilgrim Mill Road and east of Pilgrim Mill from office professional, single-family residential and planned shopping center districts to planned-unit development for the project.

According to plans submitted to the city and discussed at previous meetings, the development will include 102 attached townhomes and duplexes, 262 multi-family units and six vertical mixed-use units on Dahlonega Highway, along with a detached single-family community with 221 units and, east of Pilgrim Mill Road, 122 single-family detached lots around the perimeter and 98 townhomes in the middle for a total of 220 units. 

The development will include 44, 55-foot, front-entry, detached residential units on 12.5 acres; 105, 45-foot rear-entry, detached residential units on 24.6 acres and 72 motor court lots on 21.1 acres.

More than 50 acres of the total development will be used for attached residential units, which will include 26, 20-foot, rear-entry townhomes and 38, 24-foot, rear-entry duplex townhomes near Dahlonega Highway.

The development will also include 220,000 square feet of institutional-senior living units on 14.6 acres and 18.4 acres of commercial uses.

A portion of the development will also include more than 50,000 square feet for retail, restaurant and office uses near Dahlonega Highway, a 7,000-square-foot restaurant and 26,000 square feet for indoor amenities.

The senior living portion of the project is proposed with independent living, assisted living, and memory care units and is being included with 21,000 square feet for retail, office and restaurant on the west side of Pilgrim Mill for another mixed-use area.

The proposal also includes a central amenity area with a clubhouse, pool, fitness center and outdoor patio space.