Saturday, June 07, 2014

Public Service Commission Paying For Gas Pipeline To Business And Medical Park In Oconee County

For Development

The Public Service Commission of Georgia will spend $0.5 million to run a gas pipeline under SR 316 to Resurgence Park, the commercial subdivision being created by Nichols Land and Development Company on Virgil Langford Road.

The gas line was requested by David Dwyer of Atlas Real Estate Advisors of Athens on behalf of his clients, Thrive Senior Living and Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dermatology, which plan to open facilities in Resurgence Park.

Entrance To Resurgence

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis also offered support for the project.

Normally the developer would pay the cost of extending the utility line to its property, according to District 2 Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols of Athens.

Echols successfully lobbied his counterparts on the Commission at its meeting on May 20 to amend the Atlanta Gas Light Company’s 2014 Universal Service Fund Facilities Expansion Plan to include the Oconee County project.

Benefit To County

Nichols said he decided to ask for the public funding of the project because of its potential to help development along Virgil Langford Road and because of the benefit to the country of using available natural gas.

The area to be served by the new pipeline currently has no natural gas service.

The $528,936 for the gas pipeline will be taken from the Universal Service Fund created by the legislature in 1998. Money goes into the fund from a variety of sources, according to Echols, including from fees paid by gas transmission line owners.

The five-member elected Public Service Commission manages the monies in the Universal Service Fund. Nichols represents District 2, which includes Clarke and Oconee counties.

Project Details

Atlanta Gas Light will tie into an existing gas main on Virgil Langford Road south of SR , according to Kristie Swink Benson, manager of public relations and media relations at the company.

The new line will extend to SR 316 and bore under it and then continue on Virgil Langford Road past the Oconee Connector to Resurgence Park, Benson told me in an email message on May 27.

Atlanta Gas Light will install 3,800 feet of 6-inch steel main, according to Benson. The project is expensive because of the necessity of boring under the divided highway.

“We chose to serve this route to have ample supply for potential growth along the Oconee Connector,” Benson wrote to me. “Also, there is an existing medical office development that we will bring gas main by in the event that customers in that office park were to request service.”

Benson said she did not have an exact timeline for the project, but she expects work to begin soon and to be completed this year.

Davis Told IDA

BOC Chairman Davis told the county’s Industrial Development Authority at its meeting on May 12 that he would be “promoting” the gas line extension in discussions with the Public Service Commission.

In the video clip below from that session, Davis said his meeting with the PSC would be on May 29, though the Commission made the decision to fund the Oconee County gas line at its administrative session on May 20.

Echols told me in my telephone conversation with him on May 21 that he had made the request that funding be included in the Universal Service Fund plan only after talking to Davis and learning of Davis’ support of the Resurgence and Thrive project.

Echols sent Davis an email message on May 20 “moments” after the decision had been made informing him of his success in getting funding for the project.

Echols sent copies of his email to Davis to area media outlets, including to flagpole. Blake Aued of flagpole sent that email to me.

Resurgence Background

Williams and Associates, an engineering and landscape architecture firm, submitted a final plat to the Oconee County Planning Department for the nine-lot Resurgence Park in early April. The land had been rezoned by the Board of Commissioners in August of last year.

Williams and Associates submitted, also in April, a preliminary site plan for lot 6, listing Thrive Senior Living of Atlanta as the developer. That nearly 5-acre lot has frontage on SR 316, though access is from Virgil Langford Road.

Thrive is proposing to build a 85-bed assisted living facility on the site.

Realtor Dwyer told me in a telephone conversation on May 23 that, with the gas line, the likelihood that Thrive will build the facility is “close to 100 percent.”

Dermatology Facility

Dr. Ross Campbell, who is building the new Georgia Skin Cancer and Aesthetic Dermatology facility at the corner of Virgil Langford Road and the Oconee Connector, had committed to the project because he had been confident he would be able to get the natural gas line, Dwyer told me.

That building, already under construction, is technically on lot 1 in Resurgence Park, but that lot was split off from the others in the rezone process because of problems with sewer service for Resurgence Park.

Resurgence Park is owned by LCN Oconee LLC and Frank Halpin of Canton and is being developed by Nichols Land and Development Company, 2500 Daniells Bridge Road.

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night rezoned another piece of land owned by LCN Oconee and Frank Halpin for a mini-warehouse and self-service storage facility.

That property is located just east of Resurgence Park at the dead end of Virgil Langford Road.


timechols said...

Great article about a great opportunity for our county. The money is not tax payer money, in case folks are wondering. The Universal Service Fund was created as part of gas deregulation in 1998, and in that then new law, the legislature created this "pool" of money from interruptible gas customers and pipeline service. The PSC, the agency I serve on, was given stewardship over the money. We can either extend gas operations with it or provide financial assistance to low-income seniors. We normally do a little of both each year.

Xardox said...

An interesting argument to justify an alternative method to avoid the standard of paying the piper. Creating pots of money for growth, progress, investment, etc. eventually creates a reason to spend it.
It pays to have friends.