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Planners give initial nod for major WJ subdivision

A request for a large subdivision in West Jackson crossed a hurdle last week.

In a split vote, the Jackson County Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of two map amendments for 170 acres off Hwy. 332 at Boone Rd. The applicant is requesting a change in the future land use from ag/forestry to residential and a change in the character area from suburban to urban.

Planner Steve Wittry was opposed to the recommendation for approval. Planning commission member Harold Mull was absent.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will consider the requests at its July meeting.

Stanton Porter, an attorney who spoke for the applications, outlined plans for the project at the planning commission’s June 24 meeting. Approximately 340 lots are proposed, which would be constructed in phases over 5-6 years. Green space and a number of amenities are also planned.

If the map amendments are approved, developers plan to seek an R-2 zoning.

A number of area residents voiced opposition to the project, mostly citing issues with traffic in the area and lack of road infrastructure, specifically on Boone Rd.


Also at its meeting, planners unanimously recommended approval of a rezoning request from Genuine Mapping and Design for 113 acres on County Farm Rd., Jefferson. The applicant is requesting a rezoning from A-2 to A-R.

A 64-lot subdivision is planned on the property.


Planners also voted to recommend approval of a rezoning — also from Genuine Mapping — for 84 acres on Creek Nation Rd., Jefferson. The applicant is requesting a change from A-2 to R-1.

Plans for the property include a 99-lot open space subdivision.

A handful of residents voiced opposition to the project, citing concerns with environmental impacts, stormwater runoff, among others.


Also at its meeting, the planning commission voted to recommend approval of:

•a map amendment request from Jasmine Stribling for 5.15 acres at 644 Chandler Bridge Rd., Nicholson. Stribling requested a character area change from rural to suburban and plans to divide the property into two lots.

•a rezoning request from Wendy Burns for 4.531 acres at 833 Seagraves Mill Rd., Hull. Burns requested a change from A-2 to A-R and plans to divide the property into two lots.

•a special use request for Fortified Telecom Services for 20 acres at 1524 Old State Rd., Pendergrass. The applicant requested a special use to allow construction of a Verizon Wireless tower on a small portion of the property.

•several special use requests for Motorola Solutions to allow construction of a radio tower for the upgrade to the county’s public safety radio system. The planning commission voted to recommend approval of the requests located on .22 acres at 515 Stan Evans Dr., Jefferson; 6.72 acres at 11917 Lewis Braselton Blvd., Braselton; and 2 acres at 5271 Traditions Way, Jefferson. The planning commission also tabled a similar special use request for 8.7 acres at 4345 Plainview Rd., Maysville.

•a text amendment to the unified development code. The move would delete the master planned development from the UDC. It would also change requirements for open space subdivisions; amend the number of allowed residential units per acre; and change the minimum lot width for single-family homes.

Braselton Cancer Center opens
Braselton Cancer Center opens

The Braselton Cancer Center  held its ribbon-cutting ceremony June 24 at Medical Plaza 1, next to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton.

Services in the new facility began this week.

The center is a collaboration between NGMC, Longstreet Clinic and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. The new facility has an expanded space and dedicated entrance and parking for patients.

“This new collaborative space puts our patients’ needs front and center by providing a more cohesive environment with access to both medical oncology/hematology and radiation oncology services within steps of each other,” says Charles Nash III, MD, FACP, medical director of NGMC’s Cancer Services and medical oncologist with Longstreet Clinic.

“We understand how challenging it can be to navigate cancer care,” adds Kevin Matson, vice president of Cancer Services for Northeast Georgia Health System. “Our shared goal is always to create the best possible experience for our cancer patients. From the convenience of a dedicated entrance to the close proximity of services and providers, everything has been designed with patient comfort and healing in mind.”

While patients visiting Medical Plaza 1 could previously visit both Longstreet Clinic’s Medical Oncology and Hematology and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group’s Radiation Oncology, they had to travel to multiple places. Now, there are less miles to drive and steps to take.  Longstreet Clinic has also more than doubled its previous space, adding a larger waiting area and more exam rooms for its patients.

“As the Braselton area continues to grow, this larger space for our patients and providers is crucial,” says Mimi Collins, Longstreet Clinic’s CEO. “The unified space means less logistics for patients to worry about, so they can focus on their health. I’m thrilled with the outcome of this group’s hard work and collaboration – a beautiful new healing space welcoming cancer patients with ease and accessibility.”

Through the expertise of 12 medical oncology providers, Longstreet Clinic is dedicated to providing the highest-quality, compassionate medical oncology and hematology care. Longstreet is also one of only seven practices in Georgia to be certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality Practice Initiative (QOPI).

Those clinicians partner with NGPG’s team of seven radiation oncologists, serving three locations across the northeast Georgia area. NGPG plans to add a second linear accelerator to its Braselton space in the future to help meet the growing demands of its patient base.

“The Cancer Center allows opportunity for better collaboration between providers,” adds Malay Rao, MD, NGPG’s primary radiation oncologist in Braselton. “We are literally just steps from each other, so we can more efficiently coordinate patient care and treatment planning without ever leaving the building.”

Longstreet Clinic and NGPG are integral parts of NGMC’s Cancer Services program, which provides care for almost 3,000 new cancer patients each year. NGMC is also an affiliate of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, which gives people access to closely coordinated treatment plans and access to more than 275 existing therapeutic clinical trials and research projects led by some of the top clinical investigators in the country.

Planners policy limits monthly zoning hearings, aims to speed up process

Jackson County is growing, along with the length of time spent in recent zoning meetings.

A new policy aims to control the number of cases heard during any given month and help speed up the process for county staff, the planning commission and the board of commissioners.

The Jackson County Planning Commission informally approved a policy at its June 24 meeting, limiting the number of zoning items that will be on future agendas to 8. (Items that don't meet the 8-item cut will be scheduled for another month.)

Public Development Manager Jamie Dove said the policy is flexible and can be changed at any time if needed. Dove also noted that multiple zoning issues for the same project (a rezoning and a special use for one development; multiple rezonings for several parcels in one development; etc.) won’t be split between two meetings if one or more of the related zoning matters doesn’t meet the 8-item cut.

Recent zoning meetings have been lengthy as the number of cases increases. The June 24 planning commission meeting had 12 agenda items and lasted just under 1 hour and 30 minutes. There are 13 agenda items scheduled for next month.

The amount of opposition that speak at meetings also seems to have increased. There were only 3 zoning items on the Jackson County Board of Commissioner’s Agenda on June 21, but two of those had opposition. That meeting lasted nearly 2 hours, between the zoning matters and other business handled by the BOC.

Celebrate Fourth of July in Braselton

Braselton is gearing up for its weekend festivities in celebration of the Fourth of July.

Kickoff for the weekend begins Friday, July 2, with the farmers market staged on the patio of the Braselton Brothers store at 9924 Davis Street. Visit the Main Street Braselton tent to get an American flag to wave in Sunday’s parade. The market runs from 4-7 p.m.

North Winds Symphonic band will present a free patriotic concert on the Town Green on Saturday evening, July 3, at 7 p.m. Chairs or blankets are encouraged for the family event.

On Sunday, July 4, a daylong celebration begins with an outdoor artisan market at Countryside Antiques on Frances Street at 10 a.m. followed by a free concert, parade and fireworks show. Food trucks will arrive at 5 p.m. with the parade starting at 6 p.m. GlowBand will perform after the parade until the fireworks begin at dark.

Event parking is available at YearOne Muscle Car Parts and Free Chapel Braselton starting at 5 p.m., and the Braselton Trolleys will shuttle guests to the festivities downtown.

“As always in Braselton, we’re celebrating America and invite all to celebrate with us,” said Tourism Director Nikki Perry. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Downtown Braselton for this annual event.”

Hoschton DDA plans for farmers market, downtown revitalization

Plans for a farmers market in Hoschton are under way.

The Hoschton Downtown Development Authority is planning a farmer’s market, which will be at its train depot in early August. Plans are also in the works to incorporate community art and murals into the downtown area, host community clean-up days and create new signage at the city’s entrance from Hwy. 53 next to Hoschton Park.

The DDA is working with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Georgia Mainstreet Program, which have been successful at revitalizing many of Georgia's small towns.

According to Tara Bradshaw from the DCA’s Office of Downtown Development, who spoke to the authority during its meeting June 28, in terms of growth and residential development, she is unaware of any other community in Georgia that is experiencing the level of development and residential growth that the city of Hoschton is experiencing.

“It’s exciting but it's also very challenging,” said Bradshaw.

In its early stages, the DDA is focusing on preserving the city’s historical charm as they move forward by accumulating collections of historical materials and photographs and incorporating them into future projects. Plans for historical testimonials from lifelong Hoschton residents, for example, are being discussed for the DDA website, which is currently under construction.

“Building pride in our community is one of our hard and fast principles in downtown development,” said Bradshaw, “and our sense of community and pride are centered in our historic areas."

The group is also gathering inventory of the city’s businesses to determine what types of businesses it currently offers versus what types it needs to bring into the city. The DDA will also be initiating an effort to create a high school volunteer or internship program from nearby high schools to further enhance a sense of community among local youth.

“You can accomplish anything you set your sights on,” said Bradshaw, “downtown development is a marathon, not a sprint."

Number of COVID cases stable at NGHS

COVID cases remained low across Northeast Georgia Health System this week.

On June 28, the hospital system was treating 19 COVID patients across its multiple facilities with three of those cases at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. That total has been stable over the past week.

The number of residents who are fully vaccinated has continued to increase in Braselton’s four-county area.

In Barrow County, 33% of residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and 30% are fully vaccinated. Thirty-seven percent of Hall County residents have gotten at least one dose and 34% are fully vaccinated. In Jackson County, 36% have gotten at least one dose and 33% of residents are fully vaccinated. And in Gwinnett County, 47% of residents have gotten at least one dose and 42% are fully vaccinated.

Gwinnett County remains the only county in Braselton’s area that has topped the state average. Across Georgia, 43% of residents (or 4.45 million) have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, while 38% (3.94 million) are fully vaccinated.