Dacula approves city's annual budget

DACULA - City councilmen Thursday voted unanimously to pass the 2006 operating budget.

Dacula's fiscal year matches the calendar year. The city's budget is balanced at $2.5 million, an increase from 2005's amended budget of $2.4 million.

The bulk of Dacula's money in 2006 will come from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax - a contribution of $852,000, double the 2005 SPLOST contribution of $428,000. The budget also includes a $249,000 transportation enhancement grant, which, combined with SPLOST, will be used for transportation improvements.

"This budget is our first attempt to address transportation projects," said Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks.

Dacula will begin its Harbins and Tanner road intersection improvement project right away. City councilmen voted unanimously to pay Reed's Tree Service $3,000 to remove a 19-inch oak and a 30-inch pine tree at the intersection. The cost also covers mulching the trees and hauling away the residue. Once the trees are removed, workers will begin widening the intersection, improving the drainage and redirecting the stormwater flow.

Dacula received a $125,000 grant to help fund the Harbins and Tanner road intersection project.

Wilbanks said 14 transportation improvement projects are planned for the four-year SPLOST program. The most immediate projects include widening McMillan Road within the right of way, repairing the sidewalks on U.S. Highway 29, improvements to the railroad crossing area at Broad Street and McMillan Road and creating a streetscape in the historic downtown area.

Dacula OKs annexation, rezoning for 260 homes

Dacula grew by 129 acres Thursday when councilmen voted unanimously to annex and rezone a parcel of land for a residential development along Alcovy Road, adjacent to the Alcovy Grist Mill.

The property, previously zoned residential agricultural in unincorporated Gwinnett County, is undeveloped. Plans show a density of 2.2 houses per acre under Dacula's conservation subdivision overlay district. Gwinnett County's 2020 land-use plan shows the property as low density residential.

According to the terms of the rezoning, sewer must be brought to the property before construction can begin. Dwight Williams, who owns acreage bordering the proposed development, expressed concern that the sewer might be run across his property.

"The sewer will have to come across my property, and it can be condemned," Williams said.

Wilbanks said Dacula could not condemn the Williams property because it lies in the county.

Houses will be a minimum 1,800 square feet for one-story homes and 2,000 square feet for two-stories. The community will hold a swimming pool, at least two tennis courts, and 63 acres will be set aside as undisturbed greenspace. Dacula dedicated, at no cost to Gwinnett County, a 25-foot wide easement for the future construction of the Alcovy River Greenway.