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Transportation planners give tentative nod to 976 homes

LAWRENCEVILLE - A regional transportation agency has signed off on a 967-home subdivision that would go in rural north Gwinnett near the Barrow County line.

The endorsement, though, is contingent on the developer making certain road improvements.

If county officials who hold final sway over the subdivision do not require the turn lanes and other upgrades, the county could be barred from using state and federal funds to fix some intersections in that area.

Gwinnett County commissioners can either accept or reject the recommendations from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

"We make these kinds of recommendations so that the (development's) impact on the transportation network is mitigated," said GRTA spokesman William Mecke.

"The goal is to keep the transportation network functioning as effectively as possible."

GRTA is recommending that the subdivision proposed by Suwanee-based Touchstone Homes have entrances on Clack, Mount Moriah and Mineral Springs roads.

GRTA also wants the developer to put sidewalks beside the subdivision's internal streets and along roads bordering it, and they want the homes linked to nearby Little Mulberry Park via a walking trail.

Touchstone Homes was already planning on doing most, if not all, of those things.

GRTA also wants either the county or the developer to realign Spout Springs Road with Mineral Springs Road, which meet at Braselton Highway some distance from the subdivision site. Turn lanes and a traffic signal would also have to go there.

Turn lanes and a traffic light also must be put at Braselton Highway and Mount Moriah Road, and turn lanes at Hog Mountain and Mineral Springs roads.

Based on GRTA's review, the area road network has enough capacity to handle traffic the development would generate, Mecke said. However, it could exacerbate some intersections that were already expected to perform poorly in coming years, he said.

While GRTA has given a nod to the subdivision proposal, another has so far withheld its endorsement.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has warned it will recommend denial for the subdivision if Touchstone does not tweak its plans by adding more greenspace or mixing in townhomes, shops or small offices.

Because of its size, the proposed subdivision is considered a "development of regional impact" by both agencies, who checked its potential effect on the transportation network and air quality, as well as its compliance with regional development policies.

County commissioners will consider rezoning 462 acres in December so Touchstone can build the low-density conservation subdivision.

Conservation subdivisions let developers create smaller home lots in exchange for leaving at least 40 percent of their land in its natural state.

The subdivision would be built in phases over a 10-year period.