The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is being asked to take up on Tuesday night project framework agreements with the state for widening of Daniells Bridge Road and of Jimmy Daniell Road and construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10.
The agenda item is a response to a letter sent to BOC Chairman Melvin Davis on Oct. 28 asking for county action on a project framework agreement for the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road by Dec. 1, according to documents released Friday on the county web site.
The county has received project framework agreements for the two Daniells Bridge Road projects as well, but the Oct. 28 letter on the county site from Albert Shelby, program delivery engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation, references only the Jimmy Daniell Road project.
BOC Chairman Melvin Davis has been pushing for action on all three project framework agreements since the state sent them to the county in early July, and the agenda item on Tuesday calls for BOC consideration of all three of them.
The meeting is to begin at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Watkinsville.
Land Use Committee
Davis asked the BOC in July to approve the three agreements that set out times lines and funding terms and to send the agreements back to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The four voting BOC members objected, saying that the agreements had come to them unexpectedly and did not reflect discussed time lines or roadway priorities.
Rather than take action, the BOC asked the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning to review the three projects in the larger context of county transportation needs.
Davis short-circuited that discussion by asking Land Use Committee Chairman Abe Abouhamdan before its meeting last week to focus entirely on the three project framework agreements. Abouhamdan had previously told the Land Use Committee to ignore those agreements.
|Sign For Ross Property|
At its meeting last week, the Land Use Committee voted 8-1 to recommend to the BOC that it approve the three agreements.
On July 3 and July 9 the Georgia Department of Transportation sent the county the project framework agreements for the three projects.
In the GDOT agreement, the widening of Jimmy Daniells Road is a $21.7 million project, with construction funds to be authorized in October of 2018.
The GDOT project framework agreement estimates costs of the Daniells Bridge Road widening at $3.7 million, with construction funds to be authorized in January of 2018.
The GDOT agreement lists the Daniells Bridge Road Extension as a $4.9 million project with construction funds to be authorized in August of 2018.
The documents list concept approval dates of May of next year for the two Daniells Bridge Road projects and June of next year for the Jimmy Daniell Road widening.
Access For Development
County Strategic and Long Range Planning Director Wayne Provost told the Land Use Committee in October that the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover was designed many years ago to provide relief to traffic at the SR 316 and SR Loop 10 interchange.
The extension and flyover would link the existing Daniells Bridge Road to the stub of the Oconee Connector that now runs in front of Home Depot.
Provost said the project also was intended to provide “access to properties that might not otherwise have access” as a way of spurring economic development.
Nurseryman Bill Ross owns 62 acres on Dowdy Road that also has frontage on SR Loop 10 where the Daniells Bridge Road extension would cross SR Loop 10.
Ross has spoken to the Land Use Committee and the BOC in favor of construction of the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover.
The Ross property is listed for sale by Boswell Properties, a commercial real estate firm owned by Jamie Boswell, the local citizen representative on the state Transportation Board.
Boswell was copied on the Oct. 28 letter sent to Davis by Shelby of GDOT.
Boswell had not been copied on the letters sent to the county by GDOT with the project framework agreements in July.
The Boswell web site listed the Ross property as under contract last summer, but the web site no longer lists the property that way.
Ross sent a letter to Presbyterian Homes of Georgia last summer proposing the Dowdy Road property for a retirement center after PHG pulled out of its proposed project on Rocky Branch Road.
On Nov. 14 of this year, Frank H. McElroy Jr., president of Presbyterian Homes, sent out a memo indicating that the company is considering two sites for a local facility.
According to the memo, one is in Oconee County and the other is in Athens-Clarke County.
The memo said PHG was working with Williams and Associates, a land use and engineering firm with offices on Daniells Bridge Road, on the possible sites and expects to make a decision by February of 2015.
On Sunday of last week, the Boswell sign for the Ross property was not visible to anyone driving on the Oconee Connector. It had been torn down and lay in grass on the side of the road.
Emil Beshara, Oconee County public works director, told the Land Use Committee last week that he did not recommend that the BOC approve all three of the project framework agreements.
He said the BOC should approve only those agreements where funding from the state was forthcoming in the current or next fiscal year.
Construction is listed as Long Range for all three of the projects covered by the project framework agreements in the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) most recent transportation documents.
Initial funding would come for design work, Beshara said, but said he he wasn’t certain where that funding stood in the state timetable.
What is the big rush?
These projects benefit a small number of property owners and Jamie Boswell, and almost no one else.
It does very little to lessen traffic, but a lot to turn this county into a future Gwinnett.
It does nothing for small locally-owned business and restaurants.
Yet the other four commissioners set back and allow Melvin Davis to finagle behind closed doors.
Where are the checks & balances in Oconee?
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