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Evermore CID back to business

STONE MOUNTAIN - After months of bickering because of a recall election and the hiring and firing of various Evermore Community Improvement District employees, the board got back to business Wednesday with an all-day work session complete with very important guests.

On hand was Bryan Lackey, the county's deputy planning director, Alan Durham, the county's Tax Allocation District (TAD) specialist, Mike Beaudreau, Evermore's District 3 Commissioner and Jim Maran, the president of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

While there were many different topics of discussion, at the top of everyone's mind was seeing Evermore improve. And that's largely going to come through what seems to be a big buzz word in the county right now - redevelopment.

"This was the county's first CID," Beaudreau said. "And we did some great things fast out of the block. Then we hit some hurdles ... Now that we've landed on our feet again, we're sprinting again."

Beaudreau eventually spoke of the five TAD proposals that commissioners will see on their plate in the coming months. Two of those are in the Evermore CID, one in the Park Place Boulevard area around U.S. Highway 78 and the other around Lake Lucerne and U.S. 78.

Board member Emory Morsberger has even been an advocate for a third Evermore TAD, from Killian Hill Road to Highpoint Road on the edge of Snellville. But Beaudreau cautioned board members to stay focused on the two proposals currently in front of commissioners before trying to expand the current TAD boundaries.

"It's extremely important to stay focused and the TADs are important," Beaudreau said. "We've really worked with the school system on these and there was a good reason they were tabled last year that we really didn't put out there. ... Park Place is a gateway to the corridor so let's focus like a laser beam on them."

Evermore's Economic Development Manager David Stedman envisions a redeveloped, live-work-play, mixed-use Cubs Foods site that stares directly at Stone Mountain, "the anchor" for the corridor. The site has been vacant for more than eight years and offers more development potential with the now vacant Best Buy.

When the chamber's Jim Maran spoke, he urged board members to get younger people in Evermore involved like the chamber did with its hYPe effort.

"It changed the chamber 100 percent," Maran said of hYPe. "Those are the people that know what's happening."

"Our Twitter and Facebook (usage) accounts for 40 percent of the conversation," Maran said. "And I've got 850 new friends because of it."