Dacula officials to protest developer's plans to drain pond

DACULA - City council members voted Thursday night to give city staff the go-ahead to send a letter of concern to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding Phase II of Dacula Town Center. The developer of that property, which is located on the Hebron Church property behind Phase I of Town Center, plans to drain the 2.53-acre pond, pipe 1375 linear feet of stream and essentially remove .61 acres of wetland.

City administrator Jim Osborn said he has surveyed the area and has observed a wildlife habitat.

"There are fish in that pond, and there are birds in that area. We even saw a crane out there," Osborn said.

The developer's plans "will have a negative environmental impact on the site, as well as both upstream and downstream. The pond is an asset and should be built around," Osborn added.

While Dacula officials would like to see a Planned Mixed Use Development (PMUD) in Phase II of Dacula Town Center, the developer is planning to build a Kroger supermarket and parking lot on the site. A PMUD would include a mixture of smaller retail shops and residences.

"We told the developer that we want a PMUD, not a Kroger and a parking lot," mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said. "I suspect that we'll have a long and contentious discussion with the developer about this."

City staff has the city council's approval to draft and send a letter to the Corps of Engineers outlining the city's environmental concerns. According to Osborn, the corps will typically forward those concerns to the developer and give him a chance to mitigate the issues. The letter must be received by the corps no later than Feb. 20.

City OKs another annexation

Council members voted unanimously Thursday to annex 33.32 acres along Harbins Road into the city. There are no current plans to develop the property. Gwinnett County has not informed the city of any opposition to the annexation.

City servants recognized

Former Planning and Zoning Board members Neil Park and Paul Sims were honored Thursday for their service to the city. Park served on the board from 1985 to 2004, and Sims served in the same capacity from 1985 to 2007.