Dacula announces SPLOST road improvement plan

DACULA - Dacula can expect to receive its first check from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in June or July, and city officials are ready to get to work.

In Thursday's meeting, the City Council announced a list of 14 projects that will be funded by SPLOST, Department of Transportation grants and matching city funds. Dacula should receive about $3.3 million from SPLOST over the next four years.

Residents will see McMillan Road widened from Harbins Road to U. S. Highway 29 and drainage improvements and a wider intersection at Tanner and Harbins Roads. Sanjo Street, Tanner Road, Auburn Road, Third Avenue, Wilson Street, Golden Avenue and Franklin Drive all will be widened and receive drainage improvements over the course of four years.

Dacula will spend $100,000 per year for four years on sidewalk construction projects for a total of $400,000, and $1.25 million is allocated for street resurfacing and safety improvement. City officials plan to use $300,000 of SPLOST money to make improvements to the new Maple Creek Park.

A DOT Safety Grant will allow road workers to focus on U.S. 29. The road will be upgraded with sidewalks from Harbins Road to Broad Street, a pedestrian crossing will be constructed at

the railroad, and minor streetscaping is planned. The same grant will also widen Second Avenue. Dacula is required to match the grant money with $70,000 of city money for the two projects.

Lot sizes lowered in

proposed subdivision

The number of homesites in a proposed 44-acre subdivision on Ga. Highway 8 increased from 139 to 162 at Thursday's meeting, bringing the density to 3.68 units per acre. No one spoke against the change.

In May 2003, the mayor and council annexed and rezoned 46.64 acres to transitional residential district for 139 homesites at three units per acre. Since then, Gwinnett County officials have requested to purchase 13 acres for the proposed cross-county connector. Because the owner lost the 39 homesites included in those 13 acres, the mayor and council approved annexing and rezoning 10 more acres to TRD at four units per acre in October 2004, bringing the total number of homesites back to 139.

The increase in homesites reflects a higher density than the original plan approved in May 2003, but a lower density than the 10 acres approved in October 2004, giving the subdivision a more uniform development plan.

Dacula accepts stream buffer protection guidelines

City councilmen grudgingly accepted stream buffer protection guidelines they said were being forced upon them by the North Georgia Water Planning District.

The guidelines are designed to protect the streams in 16 counties around Atlanta: Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Paulding, Rockdale and Walton. None of Dacula's city officials seemed to be opposed to protecting city streams, but they said they didn't appreciate being placed in a position of having to adopt the regulations.

"This was created by the General Assembly, and they have tied it to our stormwater drainage permit," Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said. "If we don't adopt these guidelines, the EPD can take away our authority to issue building permits."

City councilmen balked at the proposal.

"Aren't they using Gestapo tactics?" Councilman Hubert Wells asked. "How can they mandate to 16 counties regulations they won't put on the rest of the state? What's fair about that?"

The guidelines require stream buffers be raised from the current 25 feet on both sides of the stream to 50 feet on each side and no paving for an additional 25 feet. Essentially, 75 feet on either side of the stream must be buffered.

"If you had an acre, and a stream ran through the middle of it and another stream ran along the edge of the property, you would only have one-quarter acre you could do anything with," Wilbanks said. "Of course, in a case like that, you could ask for a variance."

The council voted 3-1 to accept the regulations with Wendell Holcombe casting the opposing vote.