LAWRENCEVILLE -- Charlotte Nash describes it as "not turning down the good in search of the perfect."
Since commissioners gave the go-ahead to new stormwater laws, developers hoping to bring new life to old, out-of-shape shopping centers have a little help from the county to get the projects done.
"There are lots of projects that just simply die because they cannot meet the county's stormwater regulations," Planning and Development Acting Director Bryan Lackey said of the former laws, which required even lots developed in the 1970s to come up to current standards.
Some of the earliest developments in Gwinnett, he said, had little or no stormwater measures in place. In many, the parking lots and buildings left no more space for a retention pond, and costs to upgrade would have caused the redevelopment costs to skyrocket.
For years, the problems languished, and the projects died.
In fact, Chairwoman Nash remembers talking about giving developers a break before she retired from the government at the end of 2004.
But knowing that any improvement would be better than the situation at many of the dark, dilapidated, but still stormwater-inefficient centers, commissioners voted last week to allow the planning and development director to sign off on upgrades that do not go all the way up current standards.
"It's something that's needed in older parts of the county for redevelopment, to encourage it," said Commissioner Lynette Howard, whose district includes much of the earliest developed parts of Gwinnett in the western portion of the county.
Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said he was concerned about letting too much of the regulations go, since the county created an assessment on property taxes to beef up funds for stormwater infrastructure.
"I'm worried about getting too ambitious," he said.
So commissioners decided to set aside the money required for a variance to the stormwater rules be devoted to a pipe replacement fund.
"It's my desire to make Gwinnett County the best place in the nation to do business, and I think this is a step in the right direction," Commissioner John Heard said.