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Dacula prevails in arbitration

DACULA - While the final findings have not yet been committed to paper, Dacula has won an arbitration with Gwinnett County concerning how 90 acres of land that the city wants to annex should be zoned.

The property in question belongs to Blanche Wilbanks and Ernest Cain and is located on Stanley Road in Gwinnett County.

When city officials first announced their intention to annex the property, Gwinnett County filed an objection. In such cases, the matter is heard by an arbitration panel. The panel does not decide whether the property should be annexed; rather, they reach a decision as to whether the proposed new zoning is in line with Gwinnett County's zoning for that property.

Dacula proposed annexing the land and zoning it R-1200 - low-density residential. Gwinnett County had targeted that same land for a research and development technology corridor in its long-term plans, a zoning designation that is actually a higher density designation, according to Dacula mayor Jimmy Wilbanks.

While arbiters did agree with Dacula's proposed R-1200 zoning (the lowest density zoning the city has), they stipulated that there should be no development on the 20-foot, right-of-way extension area for the future Sugarloaf Parkway for a period of 12 months.

Several Dacula councilmen and Wilbanks attended the arbitration. Councilman Tim Montgomery commented Thursday that "citizens in Dacula obviously do not have the same property rights as other county residents."

Montgomery has frequently been vocal concerning his disappointment with Gwinnett County's long-term plans for much of the land in the eastern part of the county, including land around Dacula. While the county intends to keep that area largely rural and low-density residential, Dacula's recently adopted Comprehensive Plan calls for more industrial and higher-density development.

New city marshal sworn in

Steve Cline took an oath of office Thursday, taking his place as the city's second city marshal. Cline joins Reed Miller, a retired police chief and former Dacula city councilman and mayor.

Road improvements in the works

Wilbanks got the OK from city councilmen Thursday to execute an agreement that will result in a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for improvements to Freeman Mill Road and Franklin Drive.