DACULA - City leaders are up in arms after reviewing Gwinnett County's 2030 Unified Plan. The plan outlines the county's proposed use of all areas within Gwinnett and will be used to determine rezoning and annexation issues for years to come.
The problem, according to Dacula mayor Jimmy Wilbanks, city council members, city administrator Jim Osborne and city planner Joey Murphy, is that the plan reserves east Gwinnett for "Rural Estate Area" use. This designation promotes agriculture, estate residential, open space, parks and recreation conservation. In order to enforce such use for land in east Gwinnett, the county plan states that sanitary sewer service will be restricted to that area, and septic tanks will be required for any new development.
These land uses conflict with the Comprehensive Plan just approved by the city of Dacula, which is designed to promote both residential and non-residential development. The restriction of sewer service to the area, according to councilman Tim Montgomery, is in direct violation of state-mandated water conservation guidelines. If houses are required to continue to use septic tanks for water disposal, no gray water is returned to the Chattahoochee River Basin. That policy contradicts recent state mandates promoting water conservation.
"This is really an important thing for citizens of east Gwinnett, and that means Dacula, Grayson, Loganville and Snellville," Wilbanks said.
Councilman Gregory Reeves said that people in east Gwinnett are being deprived of their property rights if the Gwinnett Future Land Use Plan is ratified. The plan specifies that residential development in east Gwinnett should be limited to no more than 2 houses per acre. Land that is sold for commercial development or higher density development is typically sold for a much higher price than land used for rural/estate development.
"When we developed our (comprehensive) plan, we had a steering committee and got input from our citizens," said Wilbanks, who added that several Gwinnett County staff members participated in those public meetings. "The county had ample opportunity to speak up" if their plan differed with Dacula's, according to Wilbanks.
"This will kill economic development and job creation in east Gwinnett," Osborne said. "People who live here can't shop or work here if the county has its way."
City council members voted unanimously to authorize Wilbanks to send a formal letter of protest to the Atlanta Regional Commission and to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The letter requests that Gwinnett's Comprehensive Plan be sent back to the county with instructions to "mediate these areas of objection."
Robinson named mayor pro tem
Council woman Sue Robinson was nominated and approved to be the city's mayor pro tem for 2009.
Sanitation service fee set
Council members voted to temporarily re-establish sanitation service to Dacula residents, following the court's decision to halt Gwinnett's plans to mandate use of certain service providers. According to Wilbanks, residents will receive a bill for $120 for service for one year. If property owners choose to pay their bill quarterly, the quarterly fee is $36. Residents 65 and up will continue to receive sanitation service at no charge.