Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bring on the traffic

The Oconee County Commission approved the rezoning of the Epps Bridge Centre last night by a 3-1 vote with only Margaret Hale voting against. While I wasn't terribly shocked they didn't particularly care about the environmental impact and relocation of mitigation credits from here to Greene County, I was somewhat surprised there was some discussion of traffic impact but no revisions suggested.

A little disappointing, to be sure, and it will lead to a massive strip mall being built roughly a mile from my house ... on top of the other strips malls we already have lining Epps Bridge Road. This thing has the potential to be a nightmare for motorists commuting to and from Athens-Clarke County via 316 and out from Oconee County.

It's a shame the commission ignored the negative report from the North Georgia Regional Development Center and opted to move forward regardless with what appears to be a rather reckless project.


Blogger Brian said...

This whole area has been slated to be retail for a long time. I don't understand all the fuss about it. Could the Epps Bridge area have been planned better? Sure. But anyone moving into Oconee or the area has to know anything inside the loop in that area is going to be retail.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

The point isn't that the area was slated to be retail, but rather that - based on the existing designs - it would exacerbate traffic congestion in that corridor pretty severely (so severely, that the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center recommended against it).

I'm content with a development being put in place there, but it's perfectly legitimate to question how this will impact traffic and whether or not there are ways to either scale back on the project and/or accommodate the increased flow of vehicles.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Sure, I agree to a degree. But doesn't everyone also agree that traffic will not be a problem when the new connector is open? And the condition is that they can't build most of it until that road is done. And they also won't get tenants if access is bad.

The larger problem with this whole argument is that it undercuts Becker and other progressives with decent ideas in our community. If you choose to fight on every significant development issue in our community -- especially one that conforms with the future land use plan, yields lots of tax dollars, is high quality and brings necessary retail to the region -- opponents will position you as just another NIMBY on all other issues.

The strongest argument on this was arrived at pretty late. It is the fact that the plans may not be far enough along for a vote given the wetlands issues, etc. Based on a casual read of the issue, I doubt this sucker is coming out of the ground anytime soon. This is a classic case of entitlement banking -- now that the project is permitted, and it will sit there until the market turns and the road is built. It will likely then be sold to another developer, and Mr. Bishop has added significant value to his holding by getting it permitted. Otherwise, the next developer would factor that "uncertainty" into his/her buy price. Now if the county goes ahead and makes Mr. Bishop reserve and pay for his sewer, as it did on the residential side, that might change my theory.

11:30 AM  
Blogger paveplanet said...

The whole problem with this development is that it is based on the assumption that the new connector will be constructed. Given GDOT's funding situation, I would not bet on that happening anytime soon. What happened to the construction starting that Oconee County spoke so highly of in July?

In my opinion, the rezoning should not have been granted until the infrastructure is in place to accommodate it.

10:04 PM  

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