Dacula owners, officials butt heads over project

DACULA - Property owners along McMillan Road in Dacula turned out Thursday night to hear what decision City Council members would make regarding the road widening project along McMillan Road.

The issue was whether the road would be widened to 28 feet or 24 feet Engineering plans for the project specified a road width of 28 ft., and the city has asked property owners for easements that would allow the project to move forward.

"We're at loggerheads here," said Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks, since a 24-foot width would eliminate the possibility of installing a curb and require permanent easements from property owners.

Councilman Tim Montgomery asked city attorney Dennis Still whether building a "substandard" road with a 24-foot width would leave the city open to potential lawsuits.

At that point, residents began speaking at random from the audience, arguing that a 24-foot wide road would not be considered "substandard" by Georgia DOT standards.

Resident Wayne Davis said he had measured Harbins Road and others, and he did not find any road in the city that he measured to be 28 feet wide.

After several minutes of residents shouting out their disagreement with the term "substandard," Wilbanks tried to bring the meeting back to order by saying the city needs stormwater right of way and has to get on people's property to perform the work on McMillan Road.

When the council members voted on what to do about the widening project, two voted for the 24-foot width and two voted against it, leaving Wilbanks to cast the deciding vote.

"One of the things I swore to do as mayor is uphold the city charter and ordinances. Since 2000, we've been enforcing this (code) with people who come to the city to build," said Wilbanks. "I've been put in a very awkward position here tonight, and I don't appreciate it."

Wilbanks broke the stalemate by voting to approve widening McMillan Road to 24 feet. "I don't expect to get any problems with temporary easements," Wilbanks informed property owners, adding that if problems do arise, the city has the option of abandoning the McMillan Road project and using the designated funds elsewhere in the city.

Nancy Garmon, who owns commercial property along McMillan Road, attended Thursday night's meeting after hearing rumors that property would be condemned if necessary to obtain easements. Garmon does not oppose the project but expressed concern that property owners were not properly notified of the city's plans.

Garmon also said a year ago, the city installed a sidewalk along the other side of McMillan Road, leaving property owners on her side solely responsible for granting easements.

"It just looks like poor planning on their part," Garmon said.

Tire store turned down

Big 10 Tires did not get the go-ahead to build a store near Harbins Road in Dacula Thursday night.

City council members voted the proposed rezoning down based on concerns about the appearance of other Big 10 Tire stores in Gwinnett County.

Councilman Gregory Reeves showed other councilmen photos of a Big 10 store in Snellville, pointing out the "general disarray" and unsightly appearance of the site.