County settles land-buy dispute

LAWRENCEVILLE -- County officials have agreed to settle a two-year-old dispute over 6.357 acres in the Sugarloaf pathway by buying more than 150 acres.

The dispute with 20 Loaf Partners dates back to even before the 2008 condemnation, when Dacula officials angered commissioners by rezoning the land without setting aside some of it for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension, which was in the planning stage at the time.

In May of 2008, commissioners agreed to take the developer to court to settle a price on the land along Ga. Highway 316 and U.S. Highway 29, after negotiations left the county and the owner "$7 million apart."

While the original six acres were appraised at $3.5 million, Gwinnett Transportation Director Brian Allen said an outside attorney working for the county recommended settling the case by paying $7.5 million for the entire parcel -- 151.148 acres.

Allen said the project would have created "substantial damage" to the surrounding property, and officials faced a court judgment for the six acres that could have eclipsed that amount.

He said the land -- other than the six acres needed for the extension -- could be used for another purpose by the government or could eventually be declared "surplus" and sold to the highest bidder.

According to the Secretary of State's website, 20 Loaf Partners dissolved last month.