BOC OKs county plan for land use

LAWRENCEVILLE - Despite the objections of one city council, commissioners approved a comprehensive plan to guide development in Gwinnett for the next two decades.

The plan, which was developed over the past three years with input from a citizen advisory committee, places an emphasis on redevelopment and divides the county into "character areas."

A land-use map calls for mixed-use projects along the interstate, a research corridor along Ga. Highway 316 and a rural estate area in eastern Gwinnett, which drew the objections of the Dacula City Council.

"It discourages any kind of economic development at all," Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said. "We think a better use for this area is to look to see if we can do some employment centers."

Wilbanks said the move was "an attempt to zone the whole district into greenspace."

But Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, whose district includes Dacula, said the plan is more about the county's long-term viability than short-term goals.

"It's trying to steer the growth in the future to the areas that have the infrastructure," Beaudreau said. "That's something citizens have been calling for for decades."

The plan also calls for an expansion to transit and fostering the Georgia Gwinnett College area, improving walkability and the presence of the arts community as well as celebrating the county's growing cultural diversity.

Many of the aspects are part of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's Partnership Gwinnett plan intent on drawing businesses to the county.

Despite the approval Tuesday, which came after state review of the plan, the county's discussions with Dacula will continue. A mediation hearing is scheduled for the dispute, and County Administrator Jock Connell said leaders could choose to amend the plan based on the results.