Dacula OKs annexation to beef up Kroger shopping center

DACULA - The planned 31-acre Kroger shopping center that so agitated citizens in August just got a little larger.

City councilmen voted unanimously to annex and rezone 3 acres on Dacula Road, owned by Marinela Chirita, to join the retail center. The 3 acres abuts shopping center property on two sides. It was rezoned from residential in unincorporated Gwinnett County to heavy commercial in Dacula.

Gwinnett County's future land-use map shows the acreage as low density residential. Dacula's planning and zoning board recommended approval of the project.

Michael Comer, Gwinnett County's deputy administrator, expressed in a letter the county's strong objection to the development.

"Established residential areas should be protected from incompatible land uses," Comer wrote. "The commercial development … would degrade the residential character of the area … and impact the route of the proposed east cross-county connector."

In contrast to the packed council chambers when the initial motion was heard last July and August, no citizen showed up to speak for or against this annexation and rezoning.

A 69,000-square-foot Kroger supermarket plus 25,000 square feet of adjoining retail space will rise in 2007 on 18 acres on the farthest edge of the acreage. The developer will widen both Dacula and Hurricane Shoals roads to incorporate left -urn lanes, and install a traffic light at the intersection of the two roads. Cornerstone Investment and Development Group will construct a 29,000-square-foot, L-shaped strip retail center with nine commercial tracts on 13 acres between the Kroger shopping center and Dacula Village Shopping Center.

Office building approved

Pharr Avenue is slowly changing from its residential roots to a small professional area in the heart of town. City councilmen voted unanimously to rezone from single-family residential to office/industrial one-half acre on Pharr Avenue near Church Street owned by Marcey Lee Simonton. The property is surrounded by a strip shopping center, real estate office and property zoned for commercial uses. A house stands on the property that will be converted into an office building. The Dacula future land-use map classifies the area as residential, and the city's planning and zoning board recommended approval of the project. No one spoke against the rezoning.