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8-30-04 Not All Oconee Happy With GA Highway 53 Development

Where growth was the centerpiece of the recent election campaigns, incumbents had about as much opposition as support.   No one has a mandate to “throw open the gates” or to “mortgage the county’s future”.

Citizens should not be discouraged.  Now is the time to be alert, informed and involved.  

AVOC

 

August 26, 2004

 

Many Informed and Responsible Citizens Concerned About Oconee’s Direction

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

Not everyone in Oconee County is happy with Fast Growth policies, media “Puff Pieces” notwithstanding.

 

AVOC hears from many people about county and growth issues.  Because of employment, family and friend connections etc, some folks cannot go public.   Others do not want to endure the abuse of the local weekly and the antagonistic attitude and actions of some of the “Fast Growth Crowd”.  

 

Where growth was the centerpiece of the recent election campaigns, incumbents had about as much opposition as support.   No one has a mandate to “throw open the gates” or to “mortgage the county’s future”.

 

Citizens should not be discouraged.  Now is the time to be alert and informed.   Life has a lot of surprises.  Informed responsible citizens can make a difference over the long haul.  Our county will be around when the current “actors” or “players” are gone.

 

AVOC is convinced that Oconee County Government needs more transparency and will get it in time—with the help of citizens who care about our community.

 

My recent Hwy 53 Article was sent to a number of email addresses on my Citizen Alert Group.  Here are some excerpts of a thoughtful response from one concerned citizen.  (SEE:  Does Oconee Have a New Master Plan? -- http://avoc.info/info/article.php?article=1540 )

 

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8-26-04 Response from Citizen on “Master Plan” Article

Wendell:

……….Sometimes I think our leaders just accept the "objective" projections that the growth is coming -- after all NEGRDC, county consultants, ARC, and everyone else tells them the projections -- and then plan for it as if they have no impact on whether or not this happens.  This is how massive water and sewer expenditures are justified: planning for the future.  The responsible thing to do.  Thing is, if they would take some time to really look at how and where we want to grow and adhere to our own land use plan (planned with input from citizens), it would totally change the nature of their approach.

The Hog Mountain road thing is a good point.  ----- have told many for years that that will be the first place where citizens notice a massive change (Mars Hill is more wooded and a little developed already -- won't have the same impact).  The little subdivision down near Hwy. 78 is a good example -- houses in the middle of a field with a big wooden fence shutting out the world. 

Hwy 53 will go from being one of the most scenic drives in Northeast Georgia to a disgusting stretch of sprawl, field-hoods, traffic lights, and retail in the next five years (has already happened in Jackson and Hall counties to this road).  The future land use plan I think calls for AR-1 type of subdivisions out there -- large lots presumably on septic.  The new park ….should not be used to increase land values for developers.

What they should do is cluster higher density growth and commercial around existing cross roads (Eastville, 78/53, etc.) and then fan things out in lessening densities from there.  If they want to declare the area around the park as a dense area with a mix of retail, residential, parks, and institutional, they need to put together a plan to allow vehicle and pedestrian mobility in the area. 

As it stands, we will have three separate UNCONNECTED MPDs with 1,000s of homes there (along with two parks, 100 acres of retail, a school, and a fire station).  There will be a school 200 yards from homes, but parents will have to drive kids across a four lane road to get them there.  Kids will have to walk across a massive four lane road to get a candy bar.  For safety, Chevy Tahoes will take kids to ballgames when bikes should suffice.  Even between neighborhoods, given the sizes of required buffers, kids will have to get on Hwy 53 to just go to the next neighborhood.  This is ridiculous, and a failure of our county planning staff and leadership.

The aggressive sewer plan is the part that truly needs to be stopped.  What is so wrong with septic tanks for single family residential?  Preserve and only fund sewer for commercial or mixed-use development, or in key high-density growth nodes.  If our county leaders are UNWILLING to define where high-density growth should be, then we should not permit them to dedicate our tax dollars to filling up the county with three home per acre subdivisions, especially when they have proven they won't commit to preserving greenspace.  The future is a scary place.  Sewer service and wide roads = Gwinnett County.  We have to find a better way.  Educating citizens is what Citizen Leaders must focus on…….

A Concerned Citizen

Name Withheld By Request


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