Monday, April 19, 2021

State Transportation Board Member Boswell Lists Numerous Oconee County Properties Affected by SR 316 Transformation

***Commercial Real Estate And Board Role Intertwined***

Boswell Properties, owned by State Transportation Board member Jamie Boswell, is at the center of the rezone involving his client Maxie Price that is before the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night.

Boswell not only is listing the 47 acres owned by Price, but he has been informed of a decision by Georgia Department of Transportation senior officials to overrule regional engineers who had rejected Price’s request for access to the Oconee Connector from his property.

Boswell also is listing at least 13 other properties that will be affected by decisions made by the Department of Transportation as it moves forward with plans to transform SR 316 into a limited access highway.

Included are nine tracts totaling 92 acres listed by Boswell Properties at Dials Mill Road.

Design work on an interchange for that roadway and nearby Dials Mill Extension are still being worked out, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said last month.

GDOT has fast tracked that project, however, giving it a start date of 2024, the same as for the Oconee Connector but ahead the interchanges for the more integral Mars Hill Road and McNutt Creek Road.

Jamie Boswell, in his role as a member of the Transportation Board, also will be asked next month to approve a $100,000 salary increase for Georgia Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.

McMurry ultimately is responsible for how the Dials Mill Road intersection is designed, as he was for the decision to alter plans for the interchange with the Oconee Connector.

Planning Commission Meeting

The Planning Commission, meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Courthouse in Watkinsville, will hold a public hearing on Price’s request to combine three properties he owns at the Oconee Connector and Mars Hill Road into a single tract to be zoned B-2 (Highway Business District).

Sign On Price Property

Price has submitted plans for a shopping center on the three properties with a grocery store as the main tenant and to include additional retail, restaurant, and hotel uses.

Sembler Corporation of Florida would be the developer of the proposed shopping center with Publix as the grocery store operator.

The submitted concept plan shows the main entrance to the shopping center off the Oconee Connector about half way between SR 316 and the intersection of the Connector with Mars Hill Road and Daniells Bridge Road.

It also shows five additional entrances off Mars Hill Road.

Letter From GDOT Chief Engineer

Georgia Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle has overruled a District 1 project team that had agreed with the county’s assessment that only a right-in, right-out access should be allowed on the Oconee Connector.

Pirkle said the state would accept a full access median commercial break about half way between the Oconee Connector between SR 316 and Mars Hill Road.

Pirkle copied her letter to Kelvin Mullins, District 1 engineer, Andrew Hoenig from Innovative Delivery section of GDOT, Boswell, and McMurry.

Pirkle reports to McMurry, who reports to the Transportation Board on which Boswell sits.

Hoenig reports to Pirkle. Innovative Delivery has responsibility for the Oconee Connector interchange. Oconee County is in District 1 of GDOT.

Other Properties Listed

Boswell Properties, a commercial real estate company, is listing two other properties in the intersection of Mars Hill Road/Daniells Bridge Road and the Oconee Connector.

The first is a 3.6 acre parcel on the southwest corner of the Oconee connector and Mars Hill Road, across from the Price property.

The property is “ideal for retail development,” according to the listing. “The property has been rough graded and is ready to develop,” it says.

The second is 14.2 acres that has frontage both on Daniells Bridge Road and on Mars Hill road and, according to the listing is “ideally suited for an office/retail development.”

Boswell also is listing 20.2 acres on Mars Hill Road behind the RaceTrac at the U.S. 78 intersection. The property has “Great development potential for an office park, multi-family or assisted living,” according to the listing.

A fourth property, 16.8 acres, is on the New Jimmie Daniel Road at the intersection with Jennings Mill Parkway in Clarke County.

That property will be more accessible with the construction of the flyover and full interchange of Jimmy Daniell Road and SR 316 in Oconee County that is part of the SR 316 transformation.

Dials Mill Road, Dials Mill Extension

Clearly the properties that Boswell is listing that will be most impacted by the planned changes to SR 316 are the nine tracts that sum to about 92 acres on both sides of the highway east of the Dials Mill Road intersection.

Andersen-Wells Properties In Yellow Borders
(Click To Enlarge)

The Boswell web listing only shows six of those parcels, all owned by Andersen-Wells II LLC, which has an address of 1240 Ramser Drive in the Jenning Mill development. William L. Ulm Sr. is the registered agent.

Total acreage for those six parcels is 53.4.

Oconee County tax records list another four parcels owned by Andersen-Wells II LLC near the intersection, including one large parcel that sits between the properties that make up the county’s Gateway Technology and Business Park.

The plans call for a flyover, without a full interchange, at McNutt Creek Road, which leads to the Technology Park and then provides the main access to downtown Bogart.

The full interchange at Dials Mill Road leads only to the Atlanta Highway, passing the properties listed by Boswell but nothing else.

Intersection Questioned

The decision to prioritize the Dials Mill Road improvements was questioned back in 2017 when it came up at a meeting of MACORTS, the regional transportation planning authority.

GDOT had asked MACORTS to modify its planning documents to include funding for the project, and then Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara said “is a very strange addition.”

“I’ve never been in any meeting when an Oconee County representative requested the prioritization of this particular project,” Beshara said.

“Sometimes we don’t know where these additions come from,” Sherry McDuffie, MACORTS planner, said in response to Beshara. “They just show up on the list” from GDOT.

Darius Malone, representing GDOT planning at the MACORTS meeting, confirmed the GDOT interest in the project.

Boswell Appointment

Boswell was selected in February of 2013 for a five-year term on the Transportation Board in a secret ballot by legislators whose legislative districts fall wholly or partially in the 10th Congressional District.

Official Photo

The 10th Congressional District consists of all or part of 25 counties in the state.

Rep. Regina Quick and Rep. Chuck Williams, who represented Oconee County at that time, told me they didn’t know who nominated Boswell.

Sen. Bill Cowsert, who also represents Oconee County, told me that incumbent Transportation Board member Bobby Parham from Milledgeville originally said he did not want to continue on the Board and then changed his mind.

By that time, “Jamie had gotten into the race and was making the rounds, talking to people,” Cowsert said.

Cowsert said he didn’t remember who made the nomination.

Cowsert said he “was ecstatic to have someone from our part of the District” on the Transportation Board.

Reappointed In 2018

Boswell was reappointed in 2018 for another five-year term, expiring in April of 2023.

Cowsert would have been in a position to vote on that reappointment, but current Representatives Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower were not in the General Assembly at that time.

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.

At the meeting in May, the Board will consider a salary increase for Commissioner McMurry, to $450,000 from the current $350,000.


Unknown said...

This seems so unbelievably unethical.

Jeanne Barsanti

Pamela Hall said...

The conflict of interest doesn’t seem to be very “apparent”. Pamela Hall

Lee Becker said...


I have another comment that I will not publish because the person did not sign an actual name.

Please remember that requirement.