Oconee County’s Development Review Committee approved preliminary site plans for Epps Bridge Centre Phase II and Phase III on Friday, and a representative of the developer of the shopping center said he expects construction to begin on the project within the next two months.
The county should let bids for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension, the entranceway to the shopping center, next month, Adam Layfield of the county Utility Department told the group.
The Development Review Committee also approved on Friday preliminary site plans for a Taco Bell on outparcel 5 in Phase I of Epps Bridge Centre.
And on Thursday, the county Code Enforcement Department issued a build-out permit for an expansion of Alumni Hall into an adjoining suite at Epps Bridge Centre Phase I, reducing to two the number of unleased shops in the shopping center.
The Preliminary Site Plan and the Site Development Plans show some changes since the Bishop Company and Oconee 316 Associates LLC submitted rezone concept plans in December of last year for Phase II and Phase III, across the Oconee Connector from the existing shopping center.
A single outparcel of 2.7 acres has been carved from the 50-acre tract, replacing a 15,000-square-foot building.
The project now is showing four large buildings, three of roughly 55,000 square feet in size and a fourth of just less than 150,000 square feet.
Three smaller buildings of between 6,000 square feet and 7,500 square feet also are included.
No Tenants Mentioned
Joseph McCown from Haines Gipson and Associates of Lawrenceville and Philip Cranmer from the Bishop Company answered questions from members of the Development Review Committee at the meeting on Friday.
The DRC is made up of representatives of various departments in the county that play a role in evaluating development projects, such as the Planning Department, the Utility Department, Code Enforcement and Public Works.
McCown and Cranmer said no tenants have been finalized for the project.
Most of the attention has been on the 146,290 square foot building that will face Plaza Parkway west of its intersection with the Oconee Connector.
The site plans show fuel station bays in front of the building, and Costco, a membership-only warehouse club headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, near Seattle, has been mentioned as a possible tenant.
Costos carry beer and wine, and some include package stores.
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is scheduled to discuss a change in its alcohol ordinance, with the focus initially on Sunday sales.
Questions of McCown and Cranmer focused mostly on traffic and water and sewer issues.
Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie asked for more detail on the water and sewer needs, requesting identification of buildings where restaurants might be located.
Paul Smith from Code Enforcement asked about a time line for the project, and Cranmer, center, back to camera, said in the clip below that he hopes to have construction underway in a month or less.
Sandy Weinel of the Planning Department, who chairs the DRC, said that the Bishop Company has submitted soil erosion plans, but McCown said no permits have been issued.
Friday was the final day for comments to be submitted to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for a variance to encroach within the 25-foot buffers on streams on the project.
Carl Jordan, former Athens-Clarke County commissioner and a resident of Kingwood subdivision across McNutt Creek from the Epps Bridge Centre expansion project, told me today (Saturday) that he asked the state to deny the variance application.
The Board of Commissioners approved the rezone for the $55 million project on March 1 over the objections of residents of Kingwood and other subdivisions in Athens-Clarke County who raised concerns about traffic, noise and light pollution, and the negative impact on McNutt Creek.
According to the site plans submitted by Harkelroad and Associates of Snellville, the Taco Bell will be on a 1-acre outparcel just west of Bone Island Grillhouse and Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.
Cheddar’s Casual Café also is at the front of the shopping center, near the planned Taco Bell.
Bone Island, Freddy’s and Cheddar’s all have frontage on Epps Bridge Parkway.
Taco Bell will front on the Oconee Connector, though access will be from inside the shopping center.
Alumni Hall Expansion
The building permit issued on Thursday is for a 1,200-square-foot expansion of Alumni Hall, bringing total square footage to 4,800 square feet.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of August, according to the permit application.
The expansion of Alumni Hall, a sports apparel store, leaves only one other unoccupied store in that row of businesses .
A second unoccupied suite is on the opposite side of that central complex of restaurants and small shops.
The complete video of the Development Review Committee meeting is below.
The meeting took place in the Planning Department conference room across the street from the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
Sandy Weinel from the Planning Department chaired the meeting.
The meeting started with discussion of site development plans for the parking lot expansion of Watkinsville First Baptist Church and then moved to the plans for the Taco Bell in Epps Bridge Centre Phase I.
The discussion of Epps Bridge Centre Phase II and Phase III followed.