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Snellville 40-acre rezoning vote postponed

SNELLVILLE - A City Council vote on a rezoning request for 40.3 acres of land at Rockdale Circle has been postponed until the Aug. 28 council meeting.

The rezoning issue is not a new one and is in litigation, prompting council members and attorneys representing both the applicant and the city to cross their t's and dot their i's in Monday night's public hearing.

D.A. Prather, who petitioned the city months ago to rezone the 40-plus acres to accommodate 143 houses, was represented in the hearing by attorney Lee Tucker.

"We believe we have a project that is in conformity with (the city's) land-use plan," Tucker said, adding that Prather's proposed project will enhance the city rather than detract from it.

When residents opposing the proposed neighborhood were given a chance to speak, they cited already heavy traffic in the area, overcrowded schools and safety concerns as their main objections. Some objected to the small amount of greenspace set aside in the project, although according to Tucker, his client is actually setting aside more than the 25 percent required by the city.

Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer stressed several times to residents that the plan presented on paper Monday night was strictly conceptual and could change. Mayor pro tem Robert Jenkins pointed out that the 143 homes would actually be built on 25 acres, since about 15 of the 40 acres would account for buffers and undisturbed greenspace.

Councilman Warren Auld asked Tucker whether Prather would consider gating the community in order to address safety concerns. Auld also asked the applicant to consider making all the homes in the neighborhood 3-sides brick, rather than just the houses in highly visible areas.

Council members voted unanimously to postpone the vote on the rezoning until Aug. 28, giving Prather time to consider Auld's suggestions.

LCI project under way

The first phase of Snellville's Livable Centers Initiative project will be rolling out soon, according to Planning and Development Director Jessica Roth. Streetscaping will begin soon along Oak Road, Clower and Wisteria streets. Intersection improvements and crosswalks are also part of this first phase in the Town Center district.

Eventually, a roundabout will be built at Oak Road and Clower Street. The Gwinnett Department of Transportation has to give the go-ahead to city officials before that street improvement can begin. Councilman Robert Jenkins withheld his support of the project, citing the planned roundabout as his main objection.

"Most American drivers can't negotiate them," Jenkins said.

Roth estimated a 2009 completion of the plans presented Monday night. A $2.2 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission is funding the improvements.

Police officers honored

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety recognized the Snellville Police Department for excellence recently, awarding the department a $3,000 credit toward the purchase of new equipment for officers.