Fowler Farms subdivision will add 529 homes in Auburn

Auburn City Council annexed and rezoned 170 acres of Barrow County land on Thursday. The decision will allow a developer to construct more than 500 homes in the small town. (Courtesy City of Auburn)

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Auburn City Council annexed and rezoned 170 acres of Barrow County land on Thursday. The decision will allow a developer to construct more than 500 homes in the small town. (Courtesy City of Auburn)

A small town on the edge of Barrow and Gwinnett counties is poised to add thousands of new residents before the end of the decade.

On Thursday evening, Auburn City Council unanimously annexed and rezoned 170 acres of Barrow County land off Apalachee Church Road. The board’s decision will allow Chafin Land Development to build 355 single-family homes and 174 townhomes.

Chafin Land Development isn’t the only developer planning to put up new homes in Auburn, which currently has less than 8,000 people who call it home. Over the next three to five years, there could be 1,000-1,200 new rooftops built in the town, said City Administrator Alex Mitchem.

Auburn annexed and rezoned about 74 acres at Hills Shop Road in June that will allow Inline Communities to construct 386 homes. City officials will consider requests later this year from Chafin Land Development and Clayton Properties to rezone and annex 98 acres at Carl-Cedar Hill Road that could add 315 homes.

The Apalachee Church Road development will be called Fowler Farms. City Council initially tabled the requests needed for the project after a June public hearing, which about 15 residents attended to speak in favor and against Fowler Farms and another project.

No one spoke in favor or against the Fowler Farms development at Thursday’s meeting. At the June meeting, some people urged their fellow residents to embrace inevitable growth, while others worried about traffic and Auburn losing its small-town charm.

State Sen. Clint Dixon, who serves as acquisitions manager for Chafin Land Development, said he disagrees with the belief that new development will degrade Auburn’s character. He said the subdivision’s style and its amenities will make up for the addition of new residents.

The mixed-size homes would sell in the $350,000-$400,000 range. Residents in the gated community will be able to access resort-style amenities, greenspace and possibly a “lazy river,” Dixon said.

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Chafin Land Development plans to build a 529-home subdivision on Apalachee Church Road dubbed "Fowler Farms." (Courtesy of Clint Dixon)

Chafin Land Development plans to build a 529-home subdivision on Apalachee Church Road dubbed "Fowler Farms." (Courtesy of Clint Dixon)

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Chafin Land Development plans to build a 529-home subdivision on Apalachee Church Road dubbed "Fowler Farms." (Courtesy of Clint Dixon)

The town’s charm, along with the growing job base in Gwinnett County, is largely fueling the influx of Auburn homebuyers, Mitchem said. The town is about equidistant between Atlanta and Athens, two major employment hubs in Georgia.

“We’re known for our family atmosphere at all of our events,” Mitchem said. “People want to be close to that. I think they like the area’s location and the amenities that we have.”

The new residential homes come as Auburn begins constructing a walkable downtown area with a new city hall, town green and commercial businesses.

Mayor Linda Blechinger, who was absent from Thursday’s meeting, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that homes still under construction in other subdivisions already have a waiting list of eager homebuyers.

Population is expected to more than double in both Barrow and Gwinnett counties by 2050, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The Fowler Farms homes will be built in phases. The developer expects to begin building homes by 2023, Dixon said, likely completing them by 2028.

Road improvements made over the next few years will roughly align with the construction timeline for the homes, Mitchem said, which could help quash traffic buildup near the site. A right-turn lane from Apalachee Church Road onto U.S. 29 will be built in coming years, as well as left- and right-turn lanes for entering and exiting the subdivision.

Fowler Farms will be close to Rowen, the 2,000-acre “knowledge community” planned near Dacula. The roads built through Rowen to Ga. 316 could help relieve some of the traffic buildup in the area, Mitchem said.