Mixed-use change considered

LAWRENCEVILLE - In the five years since the county created a way for developers to build mixed-use projects on empty fields, not a single person has applied for permission to do so.

County planners are hoping that changing the rules might mean more people take a look at projects that include a combination of housing, retail and business options.

Planning and Development Director Glenn Stephens said confining mixed-use developments to the county's major activity centers makes the designation unworkable. But a proposed amendment to a different mixed-use designation, which county commissioners will consider Tuesday, would expand developers' options.

"Obviously, if no one applied for it, something is wrong with that category," Stephens said. "It seems to be restricting."

The amendment would change a mixed-use redevelopment designation, which currently only allows mixed-use projects to be built on land that has already been developed, to allow the projects on undeveloped land as well. The name of the designation would be changed to mixed-use overlay.

Under the new mixed-use overlay, projects would not be confined to the county's activity centers, which are major intersections along Interstate 85. Developers would be able to ask county commissioners for permission to proceed with mixed-use projects in any part of Gwinnett.

"More and more, we're living in an urban county," Planning Commissioner Floy Jumper said. "I think mixed-use is going to be one of our saving things."

Planning commissioners unanimously approved the change last week.

Stephens said the changes allow more flexibility for developers but still let county commissioners retain control over where mixed-use projects go.

He said the Gwinnett Braves baseball stadium project was not taken into consideration when making the change, but that the ability to apply for a mixed-use designation on undeveloped land near Ga. Highway 20 and Old Peachtree Road might be helpful for that project.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Gwinnett County Commission Meeting

· When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

· Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville