A proposed apartment complex catering to employees of a future Northeast Georgia Health System location has gained approval from Barrow County leaders.

The county board of commissioners voted unanimously at its Tuesday, Oct. 12 meeting to approve requests from Meridian Development for a future land-use map change and rezoning of 31.76 acres southeast of the intersection of Carl-Bethlehem Road and Highway 81 for the project. The 275-unit multi-family development, known as Dillard Farms, is slated for completion in 2023.

Meridian’s requests received no opposition from the public.

Meridian plans to construct a gated-apartment community equipped with a pool and fitness center, among other amenities. The BOC’s approval of the project came with 17 conditions, including a limit of 275 units, a stipulation that development will have no more than 12 three-bedroom units and a condition prohibiting a playground.

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) owns a nearby tract of land to the south of the development and plans to build a new hospital at the location, though there is no timetable for when the site will be built out, an NGHS spokesman said at a public hearing last month. But Meridian and NGHS have met to discuss how the development and future hospital facility would be integrated.

“We have enjoyed working with Northeast Georgia Medical on developing a model that we believe works well for them and works well for us,” said Michael Cowart of Meridian Development, who added that he believes the development would help NGHS’s efforts to recruit employees.

Brian Rochester of Rochester and Associates, who also spoke on behalf of Meridian, pointed to a study that found that 30% of residents of a multi-residential development in Sandy Springs adjacent to Northridge Hospital walked to work. He pitched that vision to the BOC for the Dillard Farms development.

“What we think we really have in this situation is a great live, work and play development,” he said. “We have restaurants, we have retail, we have a major employment corridor.”

Rochester also pointed to a central green space within the Dillard Farms development that would be available to hospital workers. Plans call for pedestrian connectivity between the development and the hospital as well.

The board’s vote comes after the Barrow County Planning Commission recommended approval of Meridian’s requests last month.

BOC PLACES MORATORIUM ON TEMPORARY EVENTS

The commissioners voted 5-1 to place a moratorium on temporary events in the county for 90 days to allow county staff time to review those ordinances, but the move raised some questions.

Commissioner Rolando Alvarez, who voted against the moratorium, suggested that events be allowed to proceed and that any changes to codes take effect in February.

“It seems like a negative impact to the public,” Alvarez said of the moratorium.

Commissioner William Brown, however, pointed to public-safety issues with events in his support of the moratorium.

According to staff, the county receives an average of one request per month to hold a temporary event.

24-LOT SUBDIVISION APPROVED

The BOC voted unanimously to approve a R-1 rezoning request from South Pointe Homes, LLC, to develop a single-family subdivision with a maximum of 24 lots on 36.32 acres on Smith Mill Road. Two residents, Steve and Kathy Williams, who live near the proposed subdivision, spoke against the development, however.

Kathy Williams raised concerns about privacy issues and homes on septic tanks being located in close proximity to her residence. Steve Williams expressed concerns regarding noise, traffic and 24 homes “kind of crammed into a pretty small area.”

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