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2-26-07 Oconee Population Projections and the Promoting and Enabling of Fast Growth

Can we stop it? YES!! We must elect folks with backbone who will stop spending on large Water and Sewer Projects – or at least slow it down. The dense developments cannot develop without the Water and Sewer!!!!! This is just common sense…

AVOC

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February 24, 2007

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Oconee Population Projections and Promoting and Enabling Growth

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Since Oconee Resident, Lee Becker, questioned Oconee’s Water Projections supporting the rush to “partner” with Walton County on Hard Labor Creek, some have wondered where these figures come from.  In fact,a local government can solicit and encourage growth and inflate the numbers.    Current Oconee County Officials are doing that.

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The RDC does Population estimates.  Our Comprehensive Plan shows projections.

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There are three categories:  LOW,  MODERATE  and HIGH.

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Most of us always planned on the Low-Moderate end.   In 2004, the incumbents ran on the “Claim” that our growth figures were actually in the low range.  At the same time, they were approving numerous small lot subdivisions and a historically high number of permits.  Someone should get a list (FOI Request) of Building Permits and Occupancy permits since July 1, 2004, from Code enforcement.

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Since 2002, it has been obvious that Melvin Davis & Company were planning and promoting growth.   The biggest mistake was using our limited sewer capacity for small residential lots in developments strewn all over North Oconee County (By the way, Davis moved in the 80’s from the north end to the Oliver Bridge Road in SE Oconee)

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They then set out to run water lines and sewer lines everywhere in the north end.  I received reliable information this week that Davis and Bishop Mayor are talking to a developer about running a sewer line down Union Church Road to Bishop.  That will get it closer to the large land tracts bought on Price Mill and Gober Roads in 2005 by Ray Goff, Tom Little and Bob Cain.   Stay tuned to that one.

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Davis wants to claim the “high road” by blaming growth for their actions even though his policies are promoting and enabling it.  Our School System, Fire-Police Services and Road System (and other infrastructure) cannot handle the rate of growth  he is pushing.

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Davis et al plans for a massive Wastewater Treatment Capacity project ($26 Million) and Hard Labor Creek ($04 Million) are part of the fast growth plan.  It is headed South—Just a matter of time and water and sewer lines.  South Oconee needs to tune in to these bad policies.

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Can we stop it?  YES!!  We must Elect folks with backbone who stop spending on large Water and Sewer Projects – or at least slow it down.  The dense developments cannot develop without the Water and Sewer!!!!!    This is just common sense…

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It is interesting that Oconee sold large Capacity in the Sewer System to large Metro Atlanta Developers, i.e., Parkside; Westland on Apalachee at 78 etc.    They raised fast cash to run more lines……..  a the same time, Barrow County had a limit on the connections for any subdivision in any given year……   Oconee is trying to accommodate and enable unlimited and unrestricted growth.  Their actions have set some precedents.  However, more responsible officials do not have to “rush” to go in debt to build large capacities to serve these massive developments.

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Citizens need to encourage some good candidates next year and come up with funds to help them… If not, they do not stand a chance against the War Chests filled by Development Community Dollars.

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SEE LINKS:

5-4-05 Sewer Capacity, Cost and Effort, and Oconee County Plans

5-10-04 Oconee’s ‘Pot of Gold’ Fuels MPDs & Land Rush

5-10-04 Oconee Sewer Capacity at Eastville LAS

5-5-04 Oconee County Opened Pandora’s Box With Residential Sewer Policy Change

4-09-04 Oconee County MPD Ordinances Were "Hatched and Birthed” in Secrecy

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Feb 25, 2007 – Gwinnett Daily Post   
Gwinnett's 1 million mark for population may come later


From: Gary Noffke

Date: February 25, 2007 12:57:33 PM EST

To: Melvin Davis <mdavis@oconee.ga.us>

Cc: Margaret Hale <margarethale@oconee.ga.us>, Chuck Norton <chorton@oconee.ga.us>, Don Norris <dnorris@oconee.ga.us>, Jim Luke <jluke@oconee.ga.us>

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Subject: Water Assumptions

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Dear Mr Davis,

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I appreciate your response. I am deeply concerned with the rapid growth in the entire state and particularly in Oconee County. People are not moving to Georgia and Oconee County because they have to live here. They are moving here because our politicians are giving and promising them more than they can get anywhere else. The number one attraction is the rural nature of the land. Most who move to sub-divisions obviously don't care about rural beauty and that's a big problem. All they want is the cheaper services. The rural nature of the county is being destroyed. The cost of services is going up quickly. This will in fact, slow the growth. Yet you continue to base your actions on the highest possible growth projections. The 13.3% 5 year increase in county population you site was more than the county could reasonably support with services. It required a new high school, new jail and created traffic problems our roads cannot handle. The storm-water issue has never been properly addressed and development projects compound the problem. Now we need huge water and sewage projects and you propose these up scaled projects based on population projections of 100 % in the next eight years. That would be 12.5% growth per year compared to the 2.66%, in the past five years. I checked this on my calculator three times and got a growth increase of 470% per year over current growth. This is impossible to imagine. There's no place left in the Northern part of the county to put this. This growth willplace nearly five times the heavy equipment and progressively more traffic on the roads than we currently have. I cannot imagine someone living in the Southern part of the county supporting this.

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Hopefully your statement of keeping the Southern part of the county rural is a commitment, but it's very difficult to believe. I agree with your statement that land owners have the right to sell their land for whatever reason. That does not mean that zoning should be changed to accommodate use of it for the greatest profit. Who makes the profit? A farmer sells a few hundred acres of land the family has worked hard on for 100 years for a few thousand an acre. A developer buys it, spends a few months on it and triples his investment. I would site the several hundred acres enclosed by Salem and Old Salem Rd. as a highly desirable recent division of land. It was divided into near 40 acre properties and all sold at a reasonable price. New owners have built houses, have horses, gardens, fields, etc. that has had no negative impact in the area. In my opinion other green-zone areas have recently been destroyed or are in process, namely the developments off US 441 near the Appalachia River in the southernmost part of the county. Williams Downs, some 116 acres, divided into five + acre lots should be looked at carefully. Nothing has been built there and driving down the shotgun road one can understand why. The road appears to be a large drainage ditch. Then there's the thousand + acres adjacent to the river, recently rezoned by the commissioners, for smaller lots all with wells and septic systems. There's the truck stop rezone request at Branch Road, denied by the planning commission, that comes before you at your next meeting. It's less than a mile from Fast Phils, recently built in Farmington. It is obvious people in the area do not want the noise and traffic problems it will cause. It's location, near a curve on US 441 is not suited for trucks to enter and exit the site safely. It will set a further precedent for future rezones which seems to be some land owners and developers only argument for their request. I am also aware of the large land tracts recently purchased between Bishop and High Shoals. The buyers are not tree farmers. What services will they expect from the county?

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This brings up the problem of setting precedents for rezones that if not granted result in threats of law suits by developers. Responsible citizens of the county will back prudent decisions by the commissioners. We expect you to make them and it is our responsibility to support them. This includes support in face of law suits by those trying to intimidate elected officials.

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Threatened law suits to influence your decisions is unacceptable. Neither is your using these threats, as a crutch, acceptable.

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Sincerely and with best wishes for your difficult jobs,

Gary Noffke

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Lee Becker. Water Needs Exaggerated 2.19.07

Friends of Barber Creek

1031 Willow Ridge
Athens, GA  30606

www.barbercreek.org

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

February 18, 2007

Water Needs Exaggerated

By Lee Becker, President

Dear Friends,

Oconee County officials, in an effort to justify spending more than $00 million on a new reservoir, are using population growth estimates for the County that are certainly too high.

If the County estimates were correct, 37,317 more people would be living in Oconee County in 2015 than lived here in 2005, bringing the total population for the County to 67,065. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 29,748 lived here in 2005.

A more likely figure for 2015, based on the estimated rate of growth in the County since 2000, is 38,275. From 2000 to 2005, the Census Bureau estimates that the population of Oconee County grew 13.43%.

If that same growth rate is used to calculate the rate of growth in water demand, which seems reasonable given that Oconee County has almost no industrial users, Oconee County would need 3.1 million gallons of water per day in 2010 and 3.5 million gallons of water per day in 2015.

The County will have 6 million gallons of water per day available to it in 2015, or nearly two times as much as it needs. In 2020, supply would exceed demand by 2 million gallons per day.

In sum, the crisis we are supposed to be facing is fiction. We probably will need more water in the future, but the need isn't urgent, and it isn't as great as we are being told.

Go to http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/ for details.


Friends of Barber Creek

1031 Willow Ridge
Athens, GA  30606

www.barbercreek.org

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

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February 16, 2007

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Please Attend Meeting of Board of Commissioners

By Lee Becker, President

Dear Friends,

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No decision the Oconee County Board of Commissioners has made since it decided to begin offering residential sewage service in late 2002 is likely to be as important as the decision the Board will be considering on Tuesday, February 20.

At that meeting, the Board, it now appears, will be asked to join Walton County in a reservoir project on Hard Labor Creek that will cost more than $00 million in 2007 dollars.

The 2002 decision on sewers has led to the hyperdevelopment now taking place in the County, with the 900-home Parkside master plan development project now coming online a prime example.

A decision to spend more than $ 100 million on a reservoir will spur more development, probably along U.S. 441, since the corridor between Hog Mountain Road and SR 316 now is nearly built out.

Melvin Davis, who is both the chief County executive and chairman of the legislative body, the Board of Commissioners, is the one pushing for a decision now on the reservoir project.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the four members of the Commission told him it was time to slow down, consider all the options, examine some of the smaller reservoir projects on the table, and give some serious thought to water conservation?

I urge you to write to the Commissioners immediately and encourage them to show some independence. One option would be for them to appoint a citizen group to review the different reservoir plans. The County at present is relying on the advice of consultants who stand to gain most from big projects.


2-25-07 Gwinnett Population Growth Projections Wrong

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The Gwinnett Daily Post

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=1&url_article_id=25126&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2

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February 25, 2007

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1 million mark for population may come later

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By Camie Young

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LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett isn’t filling up as fast as officials once thought it was. Instead of reaching 1 million people by 2018, officials now believe the county will hit the mark closer to 2030.

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As part of a required update to the county’s comprehensive plan, officials are lowering projections for the suburban Atlanta county — once one of the fastest growing in the nation.

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“It’s bad news in some ways because people add to the economy; it may be considered good news because it’s one less automobile on the road,” Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said.

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While officials had estimated the population would be 842,742 people in 2010, the new estimate predicts 795,444, and for the year 2030, the forecast has been reduced from 1,173,713 to 1,009,690.

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“I hope it’s not an indication that Gwinnett is becoming a less desirable place to live,” said Chuck Warbington, a member of the Planning Commission and director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District. “I think overall it’s going to allow the infrastructure to catch up, so that’s good news.”

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According to the latest population estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission, Gwinnett, Georgia’s second largest county, has a population of 719,600.

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The county has led the region in growth since the 1980s, but last year was the first time in 15 years another metro Atlanta locale topped Gwinnett in its annual increase, with Fulton County gaining about 400 more new residents than Gwinnett.

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The numbers were revealed publicly for the first time during a presentation Tuesday to commissioners on the county’s economic outlook. The downturn won’t impact the 2007 tax digest, but could have consequences for the 2008 revenues, economist Alfie Meek said.

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Bannister, who campaigned in 2004 on slowing the county’s growth, said he believes the trend will be well-received by residents yearning to maintain the suburban spirit of Gwinnett, as well as looking to escape traffic and maintain greenspace.

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But the county chairman couldn’t take all of the credit for the situation, instead pointing to national trends in foreclosures and a downturn in the homebuilding industry as factors.

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Planning Director Steve Logan said the new numbers come from consultants using “more sophisticated” forecasting models for the comprehensive plan, which considers land use, infrastructure and services for 2030. But Meek said evidence of the slow-down is already under way.

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In 2006, the number of single-family building permits dropped 20.6 percent, with most of the decrease coming in the last four months of the year, he said.

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While the number of residential housing permits is decreasing, the number of commercial developments is going up, helping the county produce a more balanced tax digest, Meek said.

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Logan said Gwinnett is beginning to be bypassed by newcomers, with outlying counties such as Forsyth getting some of the residents that forecasters had predicted to come to Gwinnett.

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“Some of the growth is going farther out,” he said. “We expected it to be here, but property values have gone up.”

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For years, Gwinnett’s population projections have been disputed by demographers with the Atlanta Regional Commission, who say the county is growing at a slower rate that locals believe.

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Mike Alexander, the director of the ARC’s research division, said many core counties are experiencing slowdowns based on housing permits, while outlying areas are seeing a boom.

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“You can clearly see that growth has pushed on out,” he said, adding that Gwinnett’s development focus will soon shift from virgin land to redeveloping older areas.

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“It’s anybody’s guess, but it definitely looks like it’s going to slow down,” he said. “But that’s one year. This may be a one-year down-turn. It’s too early to tell.”

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Logan said the shift in his numbers does not indicate that the ARC numbers were correct. In fact, that body shifted its projections up to correlate closer to the county’s figures.

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According to the most recent statistics, the ARC estimate for Gwinnett in 2030 is 986,694, while the county’s new projection is 1,009,690. The past estimate had been 1,173,713.

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“Our numbers are now much closer to ARC’s numbers. We are meeting in the middle,” Logan said. “Who knows? Neither one of us has a good crystal ball.”


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