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No Kroger so far at Dacula and Hurricane Shoals roads

DACULA - Dozens of citizens packed Dacula City Hall on Thursday to protest a proposed 25,200 square foot retail development at the intersection of Dacula and Hurricane Shoals roads.

They got their wish, for the time being. The proposed annexation died for lack of a seconding motion, meaning the applicant can return with the request because it was not denied.

Apalachee Village Partnership proposed annexing 18 acres zoned residential in Gwinnett County and rezoning it to central business and heavy commercial classification. The proposed development showed a 69,310 square foot Kroger. The acreage is owned by Edith and David Forman, Eugene Montgomery, William Reeves and Samuel Rangel, all of Dacula.

The land is designated as low density residential on Gwinnett County's Future Land Use Map in the Gwinnett County Comprehensive Plan. Single family homes and a church border the acreage to the south and west; property owned by Hebron Baptist Church lies to the east across Dacula Road inside the city limits; and on the north end, across Hurricane Shoals Road, property zoned residential is under construction. Gwinnett County opposed the annexation and rezoning, while Dacula's Planning and Zoning Department approved it.

Because of the recent spurt of residential development in the last five years, a need exists for some commercial development, said Jack Wilson, attorney for Apalachee Village Partnership. In addition to the Kroger, Wilson asked for leeway to invite a car rental business into the center, because there are none close by. Apalachee Village Partnership offered to pay for a traffic light and intersection improvements at the site.

The improvements offered weren't enough for Lowell Twiney, president of the Apalachee Farms homeowners association.

"The roads are rated at a tonnage level much lower than can accommodate a 34-ton semi that will bring deliveries to the Kroger," Twiney said. "You will have a lot of expense in road repair."

Bill Maddox said the area doesn't need another grocery store.

"We have a Kroger 3.8 miles away, an Ingles 2.1 miles from there and a Publix just down the street," Maddox said. "Remember the Winn-Dixie? It was only open a year, then we had a big, empty box for a long time."

Winn-Dixie, at Ga. highways 124 and 324, closed about four years ago. A church now occupies the space.

Teresa Cantrell, District 3 representative for the Municipal Gwinnett County Planning Commission and a Dacula resident, cited concerns regarding city developmental patterns.

"You are creating a commercial triangle," Cantrell said. "We know that what works are small nodes of commercial surrounded by a residential, and we are not headed in that direction."

Councilman R. G. Hale made a motion to approve the annexation, but no other councilmen volunteered a second, and the motion died. Because there was no annexation, there was no need for a rezoning vote.

In other business:

Dacula's 2005 millage rate will remain at 4.40 mills, the same as 2004. City Councilmen voted unanimously in a special called council meeting June 16 to keep the current millage rate. Mayor Wilbanks said there is a small tax increase, but it is not over the threshold of the amount that requires Dacula to advertise a tax increase. Taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by the millage. A mill is one-tenth of one cent.