Those in favor and opposed to a planned mixed-use development between Atlanta Highway and Pilgrim Mill Road were able to give their opinions on the project at a recent Cumming City Council meeting, though council members will take some time to review the proposal before making a decision.
At the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, councilmembers, with Councilman Christopher Light recused due to a conflict of interest, held a public hearing to rezone about 152 acres from single-family, office professional, planned shopping center and single-family residential districts to planned unit development (PUD) district for the Villages at Brooks Farm.
“Before we call the public hearing into order, I want to ask the council not to act in a vote tonight so you’ve got enough time to digest all the information new and old,” Mayor Troy Brumbalow said.
The Villages at Brooks Farm, which is being developed by Lennar Georgia Inc., is proposed with 231 age-restricted single-family homes, 25 traditional single-family detached homes, 56 single-family attached townhomes, 335 multi-family units and 42,500 square feet of vertical mixed-uses with 60 residential units over commercial and retail units on 152 acres.
Each of the different housing types will be divided into separate villages, and the age-restricted portion of the property will be gated.
The development will also include two passive park areas and neighborhood amenities such as interconnected sidewalks, a clubhouse, pool and pickleball courts.
The proposed North Cumming Bypass, which would extend Sawnee Drive to Pilgrim Mill Road, is part of the project, with the developer building the road inside the development and the city taking care of the rest.
Mary-Helen McGruder, whose family owns the land, said the family has been working on selling the land for the last five years and “it became evident that extended family ownership of property is a recipe for disaster.”
“We have spent 30-plus years trying to get our families out of joint ownership of land,” she said. “While we know that we have been very fortunate that our grandfather, uncle and father recognized the long-term benefits of land ownership in our community, we have also had the very difficult [job] of balancing the family interests of various different ages and stages of life.”
Several neighbors spoke out against the development, with many saying they didn’t oppose developing the land as much as the specific proposal, due to issues including wanting no apartments, more greenspace and belief that the development would lower tax values for existing homes.
“We’re not naïve that this eventually could be a mixed-use development, we’re opposing this development,” said Zack McMillian. “We’re opposing the density. We’re opposing the apartments. We’re opposing that it doesn’t meet the spirit of a mixed-use development.”