Developers are preparing two sites roughly a mile apart on the Oconee Connector near its intersection with SR 316.
The Oconee County Planning Department has issued a grading permit and approved the preliminary site plan for Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dermatology at the corner of the Oconee Connector and Virgil Langford Road north of SR 316.
|Daniells Bridge Promenade|
The Planning Department also has approved infrastructure and development plans for Daniells Bridge Promenade at the Oconee Connector and Daniells Bridge Road, south of SR 316.
The issued permit for Daniells Bridge Promenade actually covers two parcels separated by Mars Hill Road, and the developer is moving dirt from the west side of the intersection to the east side to make both sites more attractive for development.
Piping Of Stream
Athens dentist James McDonald and his JJMB LLC received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and variance from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to pipe a tributary to Barber Creek that flows through the eastern parcel of the Daniells Bridge Promenade site.
According to the documents submitted in support of the application for the state variance, the site will be for a bank and will have entrances on both Daniells Bridge Road and Mars Hill Road.
Krista Gridley, Oconee County planner, told me on Friday that no preliminary site plan for Daniells Bridge Promenade has been submitted to the county. The grading and infrastructure plan was approved Sept. 3.
The eastern triangular lot that is being filled is just less than two acres, according to county tax records. The western lot from which the fill is being taken is 3.5 acres, according to those records.
Skin Cancer Plans Approved In May
The Planning Department approved the preliminary site plan for the Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dermatology facility on May 24, even before the Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved a rezone for the property on Aug. 6.
The land already had been zoned for business, making it possible for the planning staff to approve the plans.
The rezone was to change the zoning from B-1 PUD (Planned Unit Development) to B-2 (Highway Business).
The preliminary site plans show the retaining walls already visible on the site and a single-story, 18,696-square-foot building at the rear of the lot, surrounding by parking. According to Utility Department documents, the building will have 20 examination rooms.
Hotel And Assisted Living Facility
The overall project, including the dermatology facility, is being called Resurgence Park.
Jon Williams of Williams and Associates Land Planners, spearheading the development, told the commissioners on Aug. 6 that Thrive Senior Living will build a 85-bed assisted living facility in the southeast corner of the 23-acre parcel bordered by SR 316, the Oconee Connector, Virgil Langford Road, and the stub of Jennings Mill Road.
Williams said developers hope to locate a hotel on another parcel of less than 5 acres split from the larger tract at the corner of the Oconee Connector and SR 316.
The Utility Department told Williams and Associates on June 12 that the county had both water and sewage treatment capacity for the whole of Resurgence Park.
Pump Station Limited
Sewage from Resurgence Park will flow under SR 316 and to a pump station at Mars Hill Road and Barber Creek, just south of the Daniells Bridge Promenade site. From the facility on Barber Creek, the sewage will be pumped via a series of stations to the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road.
Chris Thomas, Utility Department Director, told me when I visited him in his office on Aug. 23 that the Barber Creek pump can handle only an additional 5 gallons per minute, and the total Resurgence Park project will require just less than 16 gallons per minute of capacity.
The skin cancel facility will not require an upgrade in the pump, Thomas said, but it is likely the assisted living facility will, unless it is scaled back in size.
The probable cost for the upgrade is $20,000, but that could be only the beginning of the problem. The pump at Mars Hill Road also could need to be upgraded, he said.
Thomas said the worst case scenario would put the cost at about $150,000.
Thomas told me when we met on the 23rd that the county’s policy on who pays is clear.
“The one that triggers the upgrade is the one that pays,” he said.
So the purchaser and developer of a single lot in the Resurgence Park office park could bear the full cost–even the $150,000–if that purchaser was the one who crossed the line requiring the upgrades.
On Aug. 14, Thomas sent me a section of the county’s water and wastewater systems ordinance, which states: “All costs and expenses incidental to the connection shall be borne by the owner.”
But that interpretation is at odds with the one BOC Chairman Melvin Davis gave at the BOC meeting on Aug. 6
Suggested Condition Of Rezone
I was aware of the issue of the limited capacity of the pump on Barber Creek as a result of the reporting I did for the story I posted on Oconee County Observations on Aug. 4, and I suggested that, as a condition of rezone for Resurgence Park, the county require all of the businesses in the park to share in future costs for sewer upgrades.
Davis responded firmly that county policy already made this condition unnecessary.
Land Planner Williams said he didn’t think an additional condition was necessary because everyone involved in the project knows that “we” will be responsible for the upgrades. But he also said that the individual lot developer would be responsible when the upgrade was necessary.
County Attorney Response
I asked County Attorney Daniel Haygood after the BOC vote how the county, given the sewer policy in place, would be able to get all of the future sewer users in Resurgence Park to share the cost for any needed upgrade.
He indicated he thought it would be possible for the county to go back to those landowners and require them all to pay.
When I asked Haygood in an email message following that conversation to explain the procedures the county could use to force the landowners to share the cost, he indicated he would get back to me with an answer once his schedule had cleared.
I have sent reminders, but, so far, I have not heard back from him.
Thank you, Mr. Becker, for your vigilance. All Oconee County citizens should be indebted to you .
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