The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, in two 3-1 votes tonight, turned down project framework agreements with the state for the widening of Daniells Bridge Road and for the construction an extension of Daniells Bridge Road to fly over SR Loop 10 to the stub of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot.
The Board took the action after another public hearing in which 23 residents, largely from the subdivisions along Daniells Bridge Road, spoke in opposition to the projects.
Two residents of the area, both of whom have said they want to develop land they own along the proposed new roadway, spoke in favor.
Another resident said he was in favor of the flyover but not as designed and a third said he was in favor of the flyover but was not sure about widening the roadway. A fifth did not take a stand but said the Board should spend the county’s money wisely.
Chairman Melvin Davis, after restricting citizens to three minutes of comments each in their comments, spent six minutes before the vote trying to persuade the commissioners to approve the project framework agreements.
Davis then spent four minutes and 45 seconds after the vote telling everyone why he thought the commissioners had made the wrong decision.
Those comments are below.
OCO: Melvin On Mistake from Lee Becker on Vimeo
Davis said he would have voted for the project framework agreements had he been given a chance.
The board chairman votes only in the case of a tie.
Wilkes Made Motions
Commissioner Bubber Wilkes made the motion for approval of the widening of Daniells Bridge Road. It died for lack of a second.
Commissioner John Daniells then made a motion to turn down the project framework agreement for the widening project, and Commissioner Mark Saxon seconded.
Commissioner Jim Luke joined Daniell and Saxon in approving that motion, and Wilkes voted against.
Commissioner Wilkes then made the motion to approve the project framework agreement for the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover. That, too, died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Luke made the motion to reject the extension and flyover, and Saxon seconded. Daniell joined them in turning down the agreement, and Wilkes voted against.
Daniell created some suspense in the 12 minutes between the votes on the two motions to deny by engaging Davis in a discussion of the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover.
Davis tried to persuade Daniell that the project had merit and that the county risked losing the state and federal money for the project if it turned down the agreement.
Daniell said he was in favor of the broad concept but not of the project as spelled out in the documents sent to the county by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
He said the county needed more information that would allow it to decide if this project or a flyover of SR 316 at the Oconee Connector represented the better use of county funds.
About 70 people turned out for the meeting, which was moved from the regular Commission Chamber to Courtroom Number 1 because of the anticipated size of the audience. The discussion of the Daniells Bridge Road projects lasted about 90 minutes.
In January and again in February large numbers turned out when the BOC had last debated the projects, and those crowds filled the Commission Chamber and spilled into the hallway outside.
Davis tonight told the speakers he would allow them only three minutes for their comments, a procedure usually followed only in zoning hearings.
Davis required several speakers, including me, to stop their comments when he said their time expired.
In my case, I asked Sarah Bell to continue reading what I had written in opposition to the projects, and she did that. Bell began by saying she was opposed to the project as well.
Video Of Session
The full video of the meeting is below. The discussion of Daniells Bridge Road begins at the 33rd minute.
OCO: BOC Meeting 4 7 15 from Lee Becker on Vimeo
Would not surprise me if somehow this is not canceled and resurfaces again with some mysterious excuse to be brought up again. Obviously something happened that the general public doesn't know for this to be pushed to the front so hard when other projects have more pressing needs.
Thank you again Lee for your blog. Great coverage! I'm glad the good guys won this one. We need to keep our spending down and not commit to spending money we don't have because we might "lose Federal and State funds".
Maybe Chairman Davis considers himself more special than other people by giving himself more time to speak (6 minutes) than he gave the citizens time to speak (3 minutes), which at the end of the day all men and women are created equally.
I too think this will mysteriously come up for discussion in the future. We need to continue to be diligent in our fight against these plans.
Amen, Mike Horsman.
Looks like we elected a lap dog for Melvin when we elected Bubba.
Melvin and Bubba -- two good ol' boys together again.
Mr. Bubba has his land for sale. Guess who with - Mr. Boswell so perhaps there are several connections there. I agree that vigilance will be needed. Look what happened in the state legislature as time expired (actually did expire) and we taxpayers end up paying for car leases for Mercedes Benz employees. Some cannot be trusted!
Corruption sits at the table...
Bubber Wilkes is an embarrassment. 40,000+ people in Oconee, and he's elected one of our five county commissioners??!! What does he stand for? What can he possibly bring to the table? I can barely understand him when he talks. You'll never hear him say anything cogent or insightful.
He's clearly in Melvin's camp. Dude does not have a single independent thought in him. The LAST THING we need is someone who blindly follows Lord Melvin.
Does he really have property for sale with Living Conflict of Interest Realtor/State Transportation Bd. Member Jamie Boswell?? If so, would he ever disclose this to the public?
I've met a lot of elected officials in my life. Wilkes simply brings nothing of value to office. Oconee, we can do much. much better.
Wilkes owns 75 acres that have frontage both on Greensboro Highway (SR 15) and Flat Rock Road. The address is 1061 Flat Rock Road. I can find no evidence the property is on the market.
A neighboring property, 1141 Flat Rock Road, is owned by the late Alan Alexander and has a Boswell Properties sign on it.
If they do this flyover, I'd use it, actually. But I don't think it needs to be widened, just up the speed limit about 5 - 10 mph, until you hit town, drop to 45 or so like the rest of the connector. It needs to be tucked away as a small road, as if it just goes back into neighborhoods, if anything. (Narrowing down greatly like it's a rural thing to reduce traffic.) It'd be useful during game days for anyone heading back into Watkinsville, and would avoid 316 traffic for residents of Oconee who have to work in those shopping centers, as well as shortening times into town. (By at least 5 to 8 minutes.)
HOWEVER. The traffic over by Home Depot, Kroger gas etc NEEDS HELP. THAT is a TERRIBLY planned area. At the connector, turning left after the light into the area that leads to Ashley Furniture, Trader Joe's, Zaxby's etc is a NIGHTMARE. I don't know who planned the traffic flow there, but I'm going to Ad Homenim here and say they were idiots. That area is SUPER congested, and I feel like something needs to be done to relieve it. It's awful during peak traffic times. Flyover or not, that area is disgustingly reminiscent of Atlanta/Gwinnett traffic.
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