The developers of The Falls of Oconee project on Old Macon Highway have submitted revised preliminary site plans to the Oconee County Planning Department that eliminate access to the falls and the creek below it.
The falls are not natural, but rather were created by an old mill pond dam made of rock, and they are not on the Oconee, but rather are on McNutt Creek, a tributary to the Middle Oconee River.
|Future Site: The Falls Of Oconee|
Site plans submitted by Beall and Company of Oconee County for developer Athens Ridge Commercial Properties LLC in November included an elaborate walkway along McNutt Creek with what appeared to be a viewing stand downstream from the dam.
That walkway has been eliminated in plans submitted on March 31.
The project is across Old Macon Highway from the massive Athens Ridge student housing complex under construction and is being promoted as an attraction for students from the University of Georgia and University of North Georgia.
Promotion of Athens Ridge is in high gear, and the company had a full-page advertisement on Thursday on the back (page 28) of the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black.
A half-page ad the company ran earlier in the academic year accompanied a quarter-page ad for River Club, another student housing complex just across McNutt Creek in Clarke County from Athens Ridge.
|Athens Ridge Student Housing|
Athens Ridge is promoting its 30-plus-person hot tub, its “G” pool with a lazy river, a tanning spa and game room, a campus shuttle, and “luxury student living.” A promotional video is on YouTube, and the property’s web site includes construction pictures and the project master plan.
The complex is made up of 190 town homes, each with four or five bedrooms. The estimated number of beds is nearly 800.
According to the advertisement in The Red & Black, students will be moving in before classes begin in August.
Falls Listed By Whitworth
The Falls of Oconee is a five-building complex sitting on just less than five acres where Old Macon Highway intersects with White Oak Drive. A closed convenience store and gas station, as well a small mountain of rock from the Athens Ridge site, now occupy the property.
Both the student housing complex and The Falls of Oconee projects are being developed by Athens Ridge out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
|Falls On McNutt Creek (11/16/2013)|
The Falls of Oconee property is listed by Whitworth Land Company of Athens, and the boardwalk and overview of the falls are prominent features of the master plan available online.
The county’s Development Review Committee in December examined preliminary site plan for The Falls of Oconee project submitted in November and noted that one of the buildings was inside the floodplain and that the proposed boardwalk did not meet county code.
Boardwalk In Floodplain
Almost all of the boardwalk was to be inside the 100 year floodplain, according to the November site plans.
B.R. White, director of the Oconee County Planning Department, told me that the state of Georgia sets strict guidelines for construction of anything inside the floodplain.
The developer could decide in the future to re-incorporate the boardwalk in the project, he said, but it would then have to submit plans to and meet the standards of the state.
The DRC will have to review the revised site plan before the developer can go forward, White said.