Developer Peter Sanders speaks with local residents at a public input meeting Wednesday night.

Dozens turned out this week to learn more about a proposed community geared toward veterans that would sit on 500 acres next to Georgia National Cemetery.

The community room at Fire Station No. 22 in the BridgeMill community was packed with members of the public Wednesday evening to hear from developer Peter Sanders. For two hours, Sanders presented his proposed plans and answered questions from those attending the meeting.

According to Sanders, the Freedom development, as the project is being called, would include:

♦ A museum/living history center;

♦ A lodge and convention center;

♦ An 18-hole golf course with military monuments at each hole, along with an additional nine holes that that are handicap accessible;

♦ A section of low-cost housing catering to veterans; and,

♦ A more traditional residential development that would also be veteran-centric.

Being roughly halfway between Interstates 75 and 575, the conference center would be attractive for companies and organizations to hold meetings, Sanders said.

A major goal of the development is to give back to charities helping veterans, with revenue coming in to be donated out to organizations serving veterans, Sanders said.

Sanders said there would be two access points, to Freedome one on Scott Hudgens Drive and the other on Ga. Highway 20 with a traffic light approximately halfway up the incline and a roundabout on Scott Hudgens Drive to control traffic at the entrances.

The golf course would be a combination of public and private, as there would be times when companies holding conferences at the lodge could take to the course while paying a higher rate. The course would also be open to residents of the development and members of the public much of the time, with veterans paying the lowest rates to play, Sanders said.

Freedom would be built in several phases, according to Sanders, with the golf course and lodge being the first focus of construction. He did not present a timeline for construction and said the project is in early planning stages.

James Mitchum, director of the Georgia National Cemetery had a prepared statement for the meeting. He explained that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cemetery Administration are neither in support of or opposed to the development.

Mitchum did list a handful of concerns the cemetery and the VA had, including increased traffic in the area, the amount of noise generated during construction, errant golf balls making their way onto the cemetery grounds and that Freedom’s main theme of recognizing and remembering America’s veterans might create an implied relationship between the development and the VA.

A number of area veterans, including Robert Judd who is a member of the Marine Corps League spoke in favor of the development.

Judd said he and a number of other veterans in the Marine Corps League like what the plan involves, particularly the museum and living history center.

Several residents said a traffic light at the suggested location on Highway 20, would be a mistake because tractor-trailers coming down the incline from the west would have a hard time stopping, while westbound trucks going up the incline would lose their momentum and make it virtually impossible for them to climb the rest of the way up.

Some residents at the meeting questioned the non-profit status of the project, while others said there is inadequate water service in the area.

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