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3-22-05 Time & University Parkway (GA 316) Vision Slipping Away?

    Recent articles have shown other areas that would welcome road improvements, toll or no toll.  Others are putting forth (Hall) effort and study to deal with their regional development…….

   The concentration of residences in the Lawrenceville stretch of GA 316 will add to more gridlock and the corridor can eventually look like some tenements in other areas of Metro-Atlanta.

AVOC

 

March 20, 2005

 

Time & University Parkway (GA 316) Slipping Away?

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

GA 316 has been the center of visions and dreams of area leaders for several years.  It was seen as an opportunity to build a First Class Technology and Educational Corridor connecting the University of Georgia and the Atlanta Universities of Emory, Georgia Tech, etc.

 

Unfortunately much of the effort has been ideas and talk.  I remember over 5 years ago hearing Barrow County Chairman Eddie Elder saying, “…give me a time and something definite… we can’t hold off the developers and property owners along this road forever….”

 

There are many headlines about the road but little substantive.  Instead of leadership, we are debating tolls and special districts.  Meanwhile the opportunity for a high-class corridor is rapidly slipping away.

 

Recent articles have shown other areas that would welcome road improvements, toll or no toll.  Others are putting forth (Hall) effort and study to deal with their regional development.  Along GA 316, we seem to have much developer influence driven by profit and little vision.

 

The concentration of residences in the Lawrenceville stretch of GA 316 will add to more gridlock and the corridor can eventually look like some tenements in other areas of Metro-Atlanta.

 

GWINNETT DAILY POST: Other public-private proposals have been submitted that would add lanes on Ga. Highway 400 and Interstate 285, and on Interstate 75 and Interstate 575.

 

GAINESVILLE TIMES: People are coming into our Northeast Georgia community so fast that it's almost impossible to stay abreast of the changes. But they are bringing in new ideas and new cultures. At the same time, they are awakening in all of us a new awareness of the conditions of community life and the need to plan for the future. ……..

 

GWINNETT DAILY POST: …….the rezonings would allow seven commercial buildings,  778 townhomes and 259 small-lot homes in the massive industrial park that sprawls along Ga.

Highway 316.

GWINNETT DAILY POST- BARROW COUNTY:  the next big boom in Barrow County at the intersection of Ga. Highways 81 and 316…. A Home Depot store is scheduled to open there Jan. 12…….

SEE FULL ARTICLES AND LINKS BELOW:


Spate of Homes on GA 316

 

The Gwinnett Daily Post

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/GDP-Templates/news1.shtml

 

March 20, 2005                  By  Bryan Brooks          Spate of Homes Proposed

 

LAWENCEVILLE — Rezoning applications filed with the county would allow more than 1,000 residences in the Gwinnett Progress Center industrial park between Lawrenceville and Dacula.


All told, the rezonings would allow seven commercial buildings,  778 townhomes and 259 small-lot homes in the
massive industrial park that sprawls along Ga. Highway 316.


The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners could hold public hearings and consider the land-use changes as early as April 26.


The wave of rezonings filed last week stems from a pending lawsuit settlement involving Publix Super Markets, the county commission and real estate investors who own most of the industrial park’s undeveloped land.


Publix, which has a large regional distribution center in the 1,500-acre industrial park, sued Lawrenceville Alcovy Investments in 2002 after the group changed the park’s covenants to allow residential development.


In court papers, Publix claimed the covenants were illegally changed, and that it located in Gwinnett Progress Center specifically because homes were prohibited there.


Publix fears that if homes are built near its 1.78 million-square-foot complex, the residents will complain to local officials about  noise and truck traffic, making it difficult for Publix to operate or expand its facility.


Despite the lawsuit, Lawrenceville Alcovy and residential developers approached the county about rezoning several industrial parcels for town houses, apartments and small-lot homes.


Some of the rezoning requests were dropped because of concerns expressed by county officials while others were denied by county commissioners, but one on Rabbit Hill Road was granted in 2003, prompting Publix to sue the county and the developer.

That suit was put on hold last year until the litigation between Publix and Lawrenceville Alcovy is resolved.

A possible breakthrough in that case occurred recently when the grocer, the developer, the county and the industrial park owners fashioned a compromise.

The agreement, which still must be signed by a judge, would result in covenants that say residential development is OK on certain parcels in the industrial park. None of those parcels are adjacent to the Publix warehouse, according to attorneys involved in the litigation.

In addition, the developer who received the rezoning for 80 small-lot homes on Rabbit Hill Road will drop his plans, and residential development will be prohibited on the site adjacent to Publix, according to attorneys involved in the litigation.

Also as part of the settlement, the county commission must rehear the 2003 rezonings in April. If any of the parties are unhappy with the outcome of the rezonings, the litigation can resume, according to court documents filed Thursday.


“The agreement that was reached says that, in the event those properties are rezoned for residential, we’ll abandon any attempt to develop residential directly around Publix,” said Atlanta attorney Scott Peters, who represents Lawrenceville Alcovy.


Publix officials have said they fear allowing homes in the business park could eventually force them to curtail their 24-hour grocery warehouse that employs more than 1,000 and serves 182 stores in four states: Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama.
They said a similar event happened in Sarasota, Fla., after homes were allowed near a Publix distribution center there. The new residents complained to officials about noise and truck traffic from the warehouse, and Publix was forced to curtail its operation.


Last year the General Assembly passed a law ensuring food processing plants and food distribution centers are not shut down if homes are built nearby and the ensuing residents complain about noise or truck traffic.


The law was spurred in part by the residential encroachment Publix faced in Gwinnett Progress Center, legislators said.


Efforts to contact Publix’s Gwinnett attorney were unsuccessful Friday.


A consultant who represents one of the developers said the industrial land should be rezoned for residences because its topography makes it difficult to develop with warehouses and similar buildings.


“It’s a win-win because (Publix) will know what is going in around them, and the Progress Center will be able to move some dirt that does not have any good industrial use due to floodplain and rock,” said the Buford-based consultant, Mitch Peevy.


Attorney Lee Tucker, who is representing another developer, said the residences make sense because they would let industrial park employees live close to work.


Area residents, however, might have a different take on the proposals. Townhomes are generally unpopular with homeowners, who say they exacerbate school overcrowding and traffic congestion.

The rezonings:


- Filed by Alcovy Retail Ventures LLC, would allow
106 townhomes and seven commercial buildings totaling 47,400 square feet at the 1400 block of Hurricane Shoals Road. The 19 acres are between the road and Ga. 316.


- Filed by Progress Resolution Partners LLC, would allow
107 small-lot homes on 32 acres at the 1400 block of Hurricane Shoals Road. The 32 acres are across Ga. 316 from the Gwinnett County Airport.


- Filed by Cedars Road Association II LLC, would allow
152 small-lot homes on 55 acres at the intersection of Winder Highway and Cedars Road. The land, which fronts Winder Highway, is separated from the airport by railroad tracks and borders the Alcovy River.


- Filed by 316 Partners LLC, would allow
243 townhomes on 42 acres between Ga. 316 and Hurricane Shoals Road.


- Filed by Highway 29 Investments LLC, would allow
153 townhomes on 19 acres at Cedars Road and Progress Industrial Boulevard.


- Filed by R.W. Acquisitions LLC, would allow
276 townhomes on 34 acres at the 2200 block of Cedars Road, the 1500 block of Progress Industrial Boulevard and the 1300-1400 blocks of Hood Road.

 


Barrow To Have Home Depot at GA 316

 

The Gwinnett Daily Post

        http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/GDP-Templates/news2.shtml

 

March 18, 2005

 

Barrow awaits Home Depot, movie theater

By Arielle Kass

BARROW COUNTY — As early as next month, construction could begin on what may be the next big boom in Barrow County at the intersection of Ga. Highways 81 and 316.

A Home Depot store is scheduled to open there Jan. 12, and plans are nearly complete to build a proposed entertainment center on the opposite corner that would house a bowling alley, movie theater, restaurant and arcades.

Wayne Parker, a real estate agent with Maynard, Bartlett and Butler LLC, said construction should begin on the complex in the next 60 to 90 days. The deal for 10 acres of land set back off the road should be closed in about 45 days.

Parker, who called himself a lifelong Barrow County resident, said he expects restaurants and other growth to come to the area even before Home Depot opens in January.

“This is something I’m very excited about,” Parker said. “The community has a desperate need for it.”

The entertainment center, planned by a Gwinnett developer, should be open by the summer movie season at the end of this school year, Parker said. The smoke-free facility will have arcades, a family-friendly restaurant, several movie screens and a bowling center.

The developer has been floating the idea around for several years, Parker said, and has been working on the idea at its current location for about nine months.

Home Depot spokesman Don Harrison said grading and site preparation could start as early as April, and construction is expected to begin in June. Barrow County is rushing to get sewer lines to the area to accommodate the commercial growth.

The 102,513-square-foot building will include a tool rental center, which Harrison described as one of Home Depot’s nicer features. The center will allow do-it-yourselfers to rent tools by the day or by the hour so they can do home improvement work without purchasing expensive equipment for one-time use.
In encouraging construction at the intersection, the county hopes to siphon shoppers from neighboring counties and win back some of the sales tax money that have been leaving Barrow for decades.

“We want their pennies,” said County Commission Chairman Doug Garrison. “These four corners are going to take off. I can feel it. I hope for it for Barrow County’s sake.”

Parker said he does not have any other development deals pending in the area but hopes to see a grocery store, nice restaurants, a regional shopping mall and possibly a hotel in the area.
Growth at the intersection will benefit the county and its neighbors, Parker said.

“I think there’s definitely going to be an explosion down there,” Parker said. “Personally, I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great corner.”


The Gainesville Times

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/stories/20050320/opinion/86798.shtml

 

March 20, 2005               OPINION

 

Progress sections define challenges that unite region

The print version of the Times today includes a special Progress edition in six separate sections. It is a brief record of life as we live it today in Northeast Georgia. ……

Our community also reaches far beyond the invisible county lines. Northeast Georgia is the community, and local governments are working together, each concerned about neighbors' as well as themselves. One of the goals of The Times is to constantly reflect these important community ties. ……

Controlling the conditions of life requires dedicated, consistent leadership. Meanwhile, the world has changed so much that the definition of leadership itself is changing. Today's leaders may not recognize the problems as easily as in the past. It may be much harder to step into the workhorse harness and pull all of us toward effective action.

An attempt at a Progress edition is important because it helps to define the community. For a complete, sometimes painfully accurate picture of life in our community today, we can go back to last year's Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute study.

In presenting a description of Hall County's potential, the study included information from adjoining counties. It very accurately tells of the problems we face in education, in personal relationships with one another and in economic development. It also tells of the opportunities we have. The Georgia Tech study can be found on The Times Web site, www.gainesvilletimes.com.

But the study is merely statistics. We want to tell about the people inside the numbers. The Times Progress 2005 shows the people at work dealing with problems and reaching for opportunities.

People are coming into our Northeast Georgia community so fast that it's almost impossible to stay abreast of the changes. But they are bringing in new ideas and new cultures. At the same time, they are awakening in all of us a new awareness of the conditions of community life and the need to plan for the future. ……..


The Gwinnett Daily Post

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/GDP-Templates/news4.shtml

 

March 10, 2005

 

Developers granted delay on toll road vote

By Bryan Brooks

LAWRENCEVILLE — The state Transportation Board will not take a preliminary vote next week on a controversial proposal that would turn Ga. Highway 316 into a limited-access toll road.


The deferral comes at the request of The Parkway Group — a private consortium of road builders that submitted the public-private project to the state.


In a prepared statement released Wednesday, a consortium official said the delay was sought because legislators are considering changing the state law that allows unsolicited road proposals.


In addition, the executive said if the law change currently before the state Senate allows it, the group will open its Ga. 316 proposal to public scrutiny.


We look forward to discussing (the board’s) consideration in coming months,” said Bill Berry, a vice president with Idaho-based Washington Group International, a lead bidder in the Ga. 316 proposal.


“In the meantime, we are preparing to share with the public our proposal to upgrade 316 in its entirety, as the amended law will allow.


“We are confident,” Berry said, “that more people will agree this process should continue as the best and most timely means to make 316 more safe, more efficient and less congested.”


DOT board members tabled a preliminary vote on the Ga. 316 proposal in January after a public uproar over the $00 million project that would turn Ga. 316 into an interstate-style road between Lawrenceville and Athens.


One aspect that elicited strong public opposition is the potential toll: 12 cents per mile, or $.68 for a one-way drive between Lawrenceville and Athens, with the revenue being used to repay investors who would finance The Parkway Group project.


Spurred by the public outcry, and at the request of state transportation officials, legislators have taken a second look at the law that allows public-private partnerships.


Proposed changes to the law would extend the timeframe for other companies to submit competing proposals, as well as open the proposals to public view after that timeframe ends.


DOT Board Chairman David Doss said the new delay is in The Parkway Group’s best interest.
“I think their decision to request a deferment is a good move,” said the Rome resident. “It gives them an opportunity to perhaps re-examine the proposal and, if they see fit, respond to any input from the public and to any changes in the (public-private law) that may be pending before the Legislature.”


Doss said it is up to The Parkway Group to decide when the Ga. 316 proposal returns to the transportation board.


“I guess at this point the ball is in their court. We will yield to their request, and at some point in the future, after they have re-examined their proposal, and also once the Legislature has concluded their business, I think it would be an appropriate time to revisit the commitment agreement.”


The agreement, which is what the board would have voted on March 17, would allow final negotiations between the state and the consortium.


Also during that two-year period, the exact toll amount would be determined, environmental tests conducted and public hearings held.


In the past, officials with The Parkway Group have said they cannot discuss the potential toll and other aspects of their proposal because state law prohibits it.
A DOT spokesman said it is unclear if the bidder can make their entire proposal public, but DOT certainly wouldn’t scold them if they did.


“Our understanding was it was always up to them to release what they want,” said DOT spokesman Bert Brantley.


The Senate is scheduled to consider the changes to the public-private law today.
Proponents of the “public-private initiatives” say the measures speed up road projects that would otherwise take the state decades to fund and construct because of funding shortages.
In the case of Ga. 316, it would shave about 20 years off the time it would take to improve the entire 39-mile stretch, according to DOT officials.


Other public-private proposals have been submitted that would add lanes on Ga. Highway 400 and Interstate 285, and on Interstate 75 and Interstate 575.


As with Ga. 316, no competing proposals were received by the state.
A group that had until today to turn in a competing plan for Interstates 75 and 575 said it could not do so because the 90-day window given by the state is too small.
Efforts Wednesday to contact Berry were unsuccessful.


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