Dacula leaders should rethink stance on county's 2030 plan

The article, "Dacula objects to county 2030 plan," (Jan. 9, Page 3A) deserves a response.

Having served on the Planning Advisory Committee that has worked on this plan for the last two years, I am disappointed in the last-minute attack of a plan that reflects long hours of stakeholder discussion, professional analysis and rigorous public input.

It has been my pleasure to serve the citizens of Gwinnett as a planning commissioner going on seven years. During this time, I have heard many pleas from citizens to slow growth, raise the quality of development and use common sense in designating land use. There is a hunger for predictable, consistent and managed growth patterns. There is a constant challenge to balance the expectations of existing taxpaying residents with developer plans and property owner rights.

First, the Gwinnett County 2030 plan provides guidelines for unincorporated Gwinnett, not land within city limits. The plan looks at the long-term sustainability and growth of the county as a whole. We are wise to realize that the decline of older parts of Gwinnett cannot be ignored without hurting all of Gwinnett. Hard decisions have to be made in an era of limited income and resources.

The proposal to limit sewer development in the rural eastern portions of Gwinnett is primarily a result of a desperate need to invest in the failing and insufficient infrastructure in the older parts. We do not have the unlimited funds to both revitalize and continue the pace of new growth. Cities may be able to look at the microcosm within their city limits, albeit a short-sighted view, but county planners are responsible to look at the well-being and future of the whole county.

Property owner rights are a key consideration of the 2030 plan. An innovative tool, Transfer of Development Rights, was proposed as a tool to investigate further that might balance the quality of life for existing citizens with the desire for property owners to maximize the profitability of their land.

While more research is needed to refine the concept for use in Gwinnett, the idea is that property owners of rural areas are allowed to sell development rights, voluntarily accepting density limitations, to designated receiving areas that have the infrastructure in place to accept additional density and development. All aspects of potential TDR sites are subject to the pubic hearing process.

Finally, the fear that the policies outlined in the plan would kill economic development and job creation in east Gwinnett couldn't be farther from the truth. The areas proposed for executive housing and green space preservation will lay the groundwork for a stable, high-quality residential base that can sustain quality mixed-use developments within the city limits and along transportation corridors.

In the consideration of the big picture, we gain predictable quality of life for existing residents, improved success and profitability of commercial nodes and environmental preservation that can still be found in Gwinnett, rather than disappear like so much of our history.

I would strongly encourage the city of Dacula's leadership to take a broader view of the 2030 plan and share the vision for a successful, vibrant Gwinnett. There is great potential within the city limits to develop a true town center and create synergy with the innovative, well thought out plans of the county that surrounds them. Let's work together.

Teresa Cantrell is a planning commissioner for District 3.