Dacula changes mixed use zoning requirements

DACULA -- City council members voted Thursday to approve several changes to the city's Planned Mixed Use Development ordinance, a move that, according to city planner Joey Murphy, adds flexibility to the regulations.

The decision came before Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks and council members last month but was tabled for further review.

According to Murphy, a concept was brought to the city by Walton Investments in December, a 157-acre development that includes a hotel and conference center, multi-family housing, retail and restaurant space, office space, a town green and mandatory open space.

"We realized real quick that our PMUD ordinance needed to be more flexible," Murphy said, once city staff reviewed the proposed plan. Most of the 157 acres is in Gwinnett County and would have to be annexed into Dacula's city limits, which is the desire of both the property owner and the city.

The resulting PMUD ordinance allows for more dense housing (18 units per acre as opposed to the former 8 units per acre), encourages walking and transportation alternatives, allows for diverse land uses and designates 25 percent of a developed site for open space.

No residents or property owners spoke in opposition of the ordinance amendments Thursday, though Wilbanks said he had received two emails from neighboring Gwinnett County residents expressing their opposition to apartment homes in that area.

These changes and others were approved by unanimous vote Thursday; the vote did not give the go-ahead to the 157-acre concept or any other specific development.

Recycling contract renewed

City administrator Jim Osborn announced Thursday that the city's contract with Republic Services for curbside recycling has been re-negotiated and renewed. The new contract includes a lower per-residence rate of $2.16 (down from $2.68) for weekly pickup service, as well as a waiving of the environmental and administrative fees the city paid under the old contract. In total, the city will save $11,059.68 annually.

Recycling fees are paid by the city out of the general fund, not billed to individual residents.

Girl scouts honored

Wilbanks read a proclamation during Thursday's council meeting, recognizing the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of America. Girls from Dacula's troop 1143 were in attendance and led the pledge of allegiance.

The proclamation declared March 2012 "Girl Scouts Month" in Dacula.