A Braselton-area development was given the green light, but without a proposed connector road to Reunion subdivision that has generated considerable pushback among that neighborhood's residents.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted unanimously Thursday (Sept. 23) to allow a planned residential development (PRD) zoning for Pulte Group to develop a 54-acre, 140-unit subdivision off Spout Springs Rd., but did so with a notable condition prohibiting a connecting road or golf cart path to adjacent Reunion, which is also a Pulte development.
Pulte had sought a connector road from the new development to Reunion’s Grand Reunion Dr., one of the subdivision’s most heavily trafficked interior roads.
Four residents spoke on Thursday against the tie-in, which would have allowed use of the subdivision’s amenities by the new home owners. They contended that Reunion’s streets and amenities are already crowded enough.
“Let me be clear, we want a PRD,” said Reunion resident Gary Hodges, who has lived in the subdivision since 2003. “We want Pulte to build. We just want them to do their own separate subdivision and stay way from Reunion."
Similarly, Reunion resident Judy Whitehead said she wasn’t opposed to the development planned for the adjacent tract — known as the Bailey Farm property — but was opposed to an adjoined subdivision with shared amenities.
“Just make it a PRD residential neighborhood with their own amenities,” she said.
Hodges, Whitehead and Reunion resident Sandra Norris all said that Pulte did not install the amenities in Reunion, noting that the original developer, John Wieland Homes, did so.
“Pulte came along many years later, and all they’ve done is develop and put in the houses,” Hodges said. “They have contributed nothing to our amenities, at all.”
Brian Rochester, who represented Pulte and sought to remove the condition prohibiting the connection to Reunion, defended Pulte’s investment in the neighborhood, saying one-third of the houses in Reunion have been built by Pulte.
“Let’s make sure we understand that Pulte did buy John Wieland Homes, and I think the neighborhood, instead of insulting, should be grateful for Pulte and what they’ve done,” Rochester said, adding that Pulte has continued “to build to a high standard in Reunion.”
He said the issue presented to the BOC was to determine if the zoning was appropriate for the property, not if a developer could add on to a development.
But the BOC kept the condition preventing the tie-in and also approved conditions that limit the subdivision to 140 units and require an amenity package, including a pool and pickle ball courts.
The project has been a source of contention for months for Reunion residents, who started a petition over the summer in opposition to Pulte’s plans to connect the new development to theirs. Residents then held their own meeting with Pulte in July, during which many voiced their objections to Pulte's plans.
In August, Reunion residents attended a Hall County Planning Commission meeting en masse to oppose connecting the two developments. The planning commission recommended approval of a PRD zoning for the project but included a condition prohibiting the connector road.
A group of Reunion residents is currently taking further steps to prevent Pulte from ever tying into the neighborhood. According to Hodges, residents have pooled money together to purchase the piece of land — currently owned by Reunion Golf Course — that Pulte needs to connect the two developments.
Hodges said the property is under contract.
“The homeowners banded together; I signed the contract to buy the property that keeps them out of our subdivision,” Hodges said. “That tells you we’re strong about wanting them not in our subdivision when we’re willing to spend our money, not Pulte’s money, our money, to keep them out.”