Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GDOT Board Member Boswell Acknowledges Benefit To His Clients Of Daniells Bridge Road Flyover In Oconee County

Said Also Benefits 95 Percent Of County

Jamie Boswell, commercial real estate broker and area representative to the Georgia Transportation Board, readily admits that his clients will benefit from the proposed Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover of SR Loop 10.

“I would think it is accurate to say that it would make those properties more attractive for development,” he said. “I would think anybody would agree with that.”

Official GDOT Picture

The extension of Daniells Bridge Road with the flyover to the stub of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot also “will benefit 95 percent of the people in Oconee County,” he added.

Boswell said the Oconee County commissioners will have a “tough choice” to make on April 7, when they are scheduled to decide whether to go forward with the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover as well as the widening of Daniells Bridge Road itself.

“The problem they have got, is they know all of these people,” he said.

Short Interview

Boswell made these comments to me yesterday in an interview of less than 20 minutes in the offices of the Boswell Group at 788 Prince Avenue in Athens and in a very brief telephone conversation about 90 minutes later.

Boswell Group consists of three companies, Boswell Properties LLC, Boswell Appraisal Services LLC, and Boswell Insurance Group LLC. Boswell is the owner and broker for Boswell Properties and Boswell Appraisal.

Boswell was elected in February of 2013 by a majority of a General Assembly caucus from the 10th Congressional District to serve on the 14-member State Transportation Board. His five-year term expires on April 15, 2018.

The State Transportation Board exercises general control and supervision of GDOT. The Board names the GDOT Commissioner, designates roads that are part of the state highway system, approves long-range transportation plans, and oversees the administration of construction contracts.

Oconee County is in the 10th Congressional District.

Project Framework Agreements

I contacted Boswell by email on Friday morning (March 20) and asked him if we would be willing to talk with me about the project framework agreements GDOT had sent to the county in July covering the Daniells Bridge Road widening and the Daniells Bridge Road extension.

He wrote back within an hour and we agreed on the meeting for yesterday.

When I arrived at his office, Boswell set one condition on the interview.

“I do not want any recording,” he said. I could take notes.

Boswell said he and I would know what he had said, and that was sufficient.

Recommendation For BOC

Boswell said he did not have any recommendation for the commissioners when they meet on April 7 to discuss the project framework agreements.

Those agreements specify a time line for the widening of Daniells Bridge Road and construction of the roadway extension and flyover. They also estimate a cost and specify in rough terms who is to pay for differing parts of the projects.

Boswell Sign On Ross Property

Boswell said he doesn’t live in Oconee County, but rather in Athens-Clarke County.

“My opinion would be that whatever benefits the vast majority of Oconee County is probably how the decision should be made,” he said. ‘It is up to the commissioners to decide that.”


Boswell said he didn’t know the consequences for the county of not signing the project framework agreements.

He said he didn’t know the origins of the agreements and, as far as he could remember, had no involvement in their issuance by GDOT.

At one point, Boswell even asked me to explain what a PFA was.

Boswell did attend a meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Jan. 27 when the project framework agreements were discussed, but he did not come forward to speak during the public comment on the issue.

Boswell Listings

Boswell is listing two key properties north of SR Loop 10 that would have much better highway access if the flyover were built.

One is owned by Maxie Price of Loganville. The other is owned by Bill Ross and formerly was Evergreen Nursery, now on Dials Mill Road.

I asked Boswell if he agreed that these properties would be more attractive for development if the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover were built.

He agreed without hesitating that the extension and flyover would benefit his clients.

The conversation ended about 3:20. Boswell called me at 4:45 and said he wished he had added that the project also will “benefit 95 percent of the people in Oconee County.”

Boswell had said in the meeting in his office that “my interest is in what’s the best interest of the 10th Congressional District.”

How Selected

The election of the representative to the Transportation Board is made in secret, and no one has been able or willing to tell me who put Boswell’s name forward for consideration.

Boswell told me during our conversation in his office yesterday that he had heard that Bobby Parham from Milledgeville, who was representing the 10th Congressional District, might not run again or might not be able to serve, given his heath.

According to Boswell, he had been working on a project on the Atlanta Highway when someone “mentioned” to him that the seat might be available.

Boswell said he didn’t remember who that was, but he said unequivocally that Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis did not play a role in his decision to run.

Boswell corrected me twice when I said he was appointed to the Board and stated that he was elected.

In the end, Parham did seek reelection, but the legislators chose Boswell in the closed-door election.

Things I Left Out

After I had asked Boswell about the two Daniells Bridge Road projects and his election to the Transportation Board, he said I had left important things out of earlier stories I had written about him.

He said that a story I posted on Nov. 13 about a meeting earlier that month involving Boswell, his client, Maxie Price, Price’s attorney, County Attorney Daniel Haygood, and County Public Works Director Emil Beshara had been incomplete.

Boswell agreed that the meeting had been to discuss a median split in the Oconee connector at the county fire station and that it involved extending that median to Price’s property, opposite the fire station.

When the discussion turned to whether there was sufficient right of way for the median cut and the need to talk to GDOT officials about the right of way, Boswell said “I recused myself.”

Boswell said he knew he could not get involved because that would be “a conflict of interest.”

I did not attend the meeting and did not know or report the details of the discussion.

Sign Story Incomplete

As a second example of incomplete reporting, Boswell said I also had not written that his sign on the Price property on the southwest corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector was not the only one at that intersection that was not in compliance with the county ordinance prohibiting signs from the right of way.

I wrote several stories on those signs, including one on Oct. 29, 2014, based on a conversation I had had by telephone with Boswell about them. In that story, I wrote that Boswell contended that his signs were not the only ones violating the county ordinance.

On Dec. 5, I reported that the county removed the Boswell sign after the other two sign owners voluntarily moved their signs from the right of way.

I told Boswell I would include his observations about my reports in a future post.

Williams Explained Vote Procedure

Rep. Williams sent me an email message on the evening of March 26, the day after I posted the blog, explaining the vote procedures for filling a position on the Georgia Transportation Board member.

This is what he wrote:

"Any resident of the subject congressional district may offer for election. When the state legislators (both House and Senate) who cover the congressional district convene for the vote, typically in Senate chambers, this is an open meeting.

"Any candidate's nomination must be made and seconded, in the open meeting, by state legislators from the congressional district. Nominated candidates may make statements as to their candidacy, qualifications, etc.

"A paper secret ballot process is used to determine the individual receiving a majority vote. If more than two candidates are running, multiple votes may be required."


Anonymous said...

“I would think it is accurate to say that it would make those properties more attractive for development,” he said. “I would think anybody would agree with that.”

Jamie Boswell is a living conflict if interest. We deserve a representative on the State Transportation Board who will not personally benefit from GDOT road projects.

Beanne said...

The problem is that the people most interested in road projects are the real estate people/developers and so they pursue these "opportunities". I suspect it is not so easy to be nominated for such positions if you are not with the "in" crowd. Wish it were different for sure.

Anonymous said...

It'd be interesting to see who all sought the position. Bet in the long run Boswell was one of the two choices. Seems lots of people are always willing to Monday morning quaterback things of this sort but never interested in getting involved themselves.

Xardox said...

Indeed lots of complaining but very little activism, yay or nay.
Kudos to Dr. Becker for at least keeping the information in the light of day.