Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Debating downsizing Epps Bridge Centre

A pretty informative piece by Adam Thompson on the proposed Epps Bridge Centre development, and it spotlights some of the lingering concerns I have with the project.

Now, in my earlier post on it, Brian and I had a good-natured disagreement regarding 'choosing your battles', but, following that logic, then don't you have to choose some battles ... so why not this battle?

I'm not arguing that the development shouldn't come (though I don't think it's entirely necessary, and I'm not interested in making any part of our region look like the mindless sprawl of Gwinnett County), but rather that the proposal seems completely out of line with the community's needs.

Yes, it suits the future land use plan. Yes, it's contingent on the extension of the Oconee Connector. Yes, additional retail space can bring a boon for tax collection.

But for all of those 'yes' answers, it was still given a thumbs down by the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center.

This is a project that spans 70 acres inside The Loop and right next to a primary creek that feeds into the Middle Oconee River. It's one that will devote 38 of those acres to parking spaces, close to 3,000 spots in all. The runoff concerns from that are going to be rather significant, particularly if the state waives the stream buffer regulations.

I would have been much more comfortable if the Oconee County Commission had recommended that the developer work with Planning Commission to downsize the project and preserve, to the best of their ability, the impacted streams and wetlands. Given that the project can't move forward anyway until the extension is approved and built by the state, there's no harm, no foul on this front.

The commission, however, chose not to do that, and I think that's unfortunate.


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