Sugar Hill discusses downtown streetscape

SUGAR HILL -- At Monday night's Sugar Hill City Council work session low on topics, the biggest news might have been difficulty getting there.

The city's long-planned half-mile downtown streetscape on West Broad between Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Ga. Highway 20 is well under way, completely closing about half that stretch, particularly the city's center between Level Creek and Whitehead Roads.

Those coming to City Hall or its adjoining meeting annex at 4988 W. Broad Street will have to use auxiliary parking and enter circuitously for several months.

But Community Relations Director Don Kelemen said the growing pains toward the $14.5 million streetscape, new City Hall, amenity pond and amphitheater are worth it.

"It's exciting to finally see dirt starting to move and the dream we've had for so many years come to fruition," he said of projects more than eight years in planning. "It's a minor inconvenience to people coming to City Hall, but a major one to (motorists) cutting through to miss the light at Peachtree Industrial."

The city is installing underground storm drainage into the amenity pond, and with Gwinnett County's gift of new water lines, it's supplying the labor to install those also. Underground gas lines already have been relocated, and conduit for electricity and cable soon will be installed.

When complete, the streetscape will have a turn-of-the-century theme with wide sidewalks, double-globe street lights, brick accents and its crowning jewel, a $8.5 million City Hall at West Broad and Temple Drive.

"It's difficult looking at it now to see how attractive and inviting it'll be when completed," Kelemen said.

Separately, the council discussed the city planning department's revision to its permit fee schedule last revised in 2002. It's primary change will be charging permits for retaining walls by square footage, instead of a flat fee.

The council also tabled for further study resident Leopoldo Vargas' request to complete construction of a backyard gazebo and patio within a drainage easement. Because the family at 90 Daniel Creek Lane had completed about 40 percent of the structure before learning more than homeowner association approval was required, the city is contemplating standing notice in its monthly newsletter that all construction requires city permit.