Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Boswell Is Seeking Reappointment To The Georgia Transportation Board

***Oconee Legislators Will Join Caucus To Decide***

Jamie Boswell, President and owner of the Boswell Group, which includes insurance, real estate and appraisal companies, has confirmed that he will ask area legislators to appoint him to a new five-year term on the State Transportation Board.

Boswell’s term expires on April 15, and state law requires that members of the Transportation Board be elected by a majority vote of the members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate “whose respective districts are embraced or partly embraced within” the Congressional District.

Tuesday was the second day of the current session of the General Assembly, and the state law requires that the meeting to appoint the District’s representative to the state Transportation Board, must be “called within the first 10 days of the convening of the General Assembly.”

Boswell represents the 10th Congressional District, which consists of all or parts of 18 counties, including Oconee and Clarke, stretching from the Savannah River to just east of Atlanta.

Oconee County’s Rep. Houston Gaines, Rep. Marcus Wiedower, and Sen. Bill Cowsert will join with 25 other members of the General Assembly whose districts fall wholly or in part in the 10th Congressional District in making the decision.

In the past, including in 2013 when Boswell was first appointed, and in 2018, when he was reappointed to the Transportation Board, the meeting was held in secret. The legislature has exempted itself from the state’s open meetings and open records laws.

The state Transportation Board oversees the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Boswell lists properties at the SR 316 intersection with the Oconee Connector and at the Dials Mill Road intersection with SR 316, where major GDOT construction projects are planned.

Text Message

Boswell, in a text message to me on Tuesday afternoon, said that he plans to seek reappointment to the state Transportation Board.

Boswell From GDOT

Others can put their name forward, as Boswell did in 2013, and the majority of those present for the called meeting will select the winner.

The state law states that the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate must call together the “caucus” of eligible voting members from the state House and state Senate to make the decision for respective Congressional Districts.

Within 15 days after each that election, according to the law, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate “transmit a certificate of such election to the Secretary of State” who issues the “commission” of the appointment.

The boundaries of the 10th Congressional District changed as a result of redistricting following the 2020 Census.

Five other Congressional Districts also will have elections this session of the General Assembly.

Districts Included

I filed an open records request with GDOT (since the legislature is not subject to the state’s open records laws) and was told on Tuesday afternoon by Pamela Sandifer, Legal Analysis Specialist, that 19 House Districts and 10 Senate Districts are wholly or partially in the 10th Congressional District.

House District 119, which includes parts of Barrow and Jackson counties, is considered to be vacant due to the resignation of Republican Rep.-elect Danny Rampey, who faces charges stemming from the theft of prescription narcotics from an assisted living complex.

The House Districts included in the caucus are 31 to 33, 93, 104, 111 to 113,115 to 124, and 128.

Gaines represents the 120th House District, and Wiedower represents the 121st.

In Oconee County, Bogart and Marswood Hall precincts are in the 120th District, and the remaining six precincts are in Wiedower’s 121st District.

Gaines also represents parts of Clarke, Barrow, and Jackson counties, and Wiedower also represents parts of Clarke County.

The Senate Districts included in the caucus are 17, 23 to 26, 43, 45 to 47, and 50.

Cowsert represents all of Oconee County and parts of Clarke, Walton, Gwinnett, and Barrow counties in the 46th Senate District.

Boswell And Maxie Price

Boswell has listed three properties owned by Maxie Price’s Deferred Tax LLC that have been the subject of negotiations over the years with the county and GDOT over access to those properties from the Oconee Connector.

Georgia's 14 Congressional Districts
(Click To Enlarge)

At present, Price is seeking to rezone two of the three properties for a shopping center, which would include a Publix.

Price is asking for full commercial access to the Connector from his property on the northwest corner of Mars Hill Road and the Oconee Connector.

The state Office of Inspector General concluded in July of 2021 that Boswell did not “inappropriately impact the design decision” GDOT made for the Oconee Connector interchange.

Inspector General Scott McAfee said he had undertaken his investigation of the matter after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article on April 30 of that year.

That article, McAfee wrote, suggested that Boswell “improperly influenced a highway design decision made by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).”

The 14-member State Transportation Board exercises general control and supervision of GDOT, according to the GDOT web site.

The Board names the GDOT Commissioner, designates which public roads are encompassed within the state highway system, approves long-range transportation plans, oversees the administration of construction contracts, and authorizes lease agreements, according to the web site.

Dials Mill Road

Boswell Properties also is listing more than nine tracts at or near the Dials Mill Road interchange with SR 316.

Design work on an interchange for that roadway and nearby Dials Mill Extension are still being worked out.

At present, a full interchange is planned for Dials Mill Road.

Sharon Thelen, president of the Dials Mill Plantation Property Owners Association, has been a frequent critic of that plan, saying that alternatives would have less impact on residential development in that area of the county.

In November of last year, the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority agreed to donate to the state a 13-acre parcel south of SR 316 between Dials Mill Road and McNutt Creek Road for a new Georgia Department of Driver Services Customer Service Center.

Access to that facility from SR 316 is still in the planning stages.

Boswell Background

Boswell is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business with a major in real estate. He also attended Georgia Tech.

He is president and owner of the Boswell Group, which includes insurance, real estate and appraisal companies.

According to an interview Brittany Wagner did with Boswell when he was chair of the Board of Transportation in 2017, and that was published in the GDOT magazine Milepost, Boswell got his real estate license in 1966 and founded his company in 1995.

“When I opened my business in 1995, the timing was perfect,” Boswell is quoted as saying in the magazine article, which is on the GDOT web site

“There was very little commercial development in Oconee County,” he said, “but it was growing and I was fortunate to sell sites to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart within a three-year span.”

Boswell put his name forward for the State Transportation Board in 2013 after working with GDOT to receive approval for a real estate project, Wagner wrote.

“My experience with the Department made me think that serving the people of CD 10 would be something I would enjoy, and I could also be helpful to the state of Georgia,” she quotes Boswell as saying.

“I’m glad I did it,” Boswell is quoted as saying. “It’s something that’s very rewarding.”

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