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County to build new Black's Mill bridge, speed up process
Public works abandons plans for surplus bridge after seven months
Black's Mill bridge
Former commissioner Gary Pichon inspects the Black’s Mill bridge in July of 2013, when the county decided to add new guardrails to the dilapidated bridge. Now, the bridge has been closed since July and the county is preparing to build a new one in its place. - photo by File photo

The project to replace the bridge on Black’s Mill Road that has kept residents driving in circles since July of last year is moving forward with a new proposal and a hastened timeline, according to Public Works Director David McKee.

The public works department had been trying to obtain surplus material from the Georgia Department of Transportation to replace the bridge after GDOT provided notice to the county July 17 that the bridge was structurally deficient and had to be closed.

The 15 or so directly affected residents who live on the road have been working with a 5.5 mile or 10 minute detour since the bridge was closed.

McKee said that at some point late last year it became very apparent to him that obtaining a surplus bridge might not happen in a timely manner.

“I spent some time meeting with several different engineering firms on several different options, and Southeastern Engineering...has done similar projects to this,” he said.

McKee recommended the board of commissioners approve Southeastern Engineering to design the replacement bridge at a cost of $33,700. The board voted to approve the plan on Feb. 15.

This would give the county a set of GDOT-approved documents to give to a contractor to start construction, McKee said.

The county has also been approved for up to $175,000 (or up to 70 percent of the construction cost) in emergency LMIG funding from GDOT to help with the project.

McKee said the county would do most of the work to haul off old material as well as build the road back when the bridge is finished.

“I believe that funding, plus the work we can do in-house, will have this bridge replaced,” he said.

The bridge will still be a one-lane bridge, but widened by five feet, and will be able to withstand the weight of emergency service vehicles and school buses, which the current bridge cannot.

McKee estimates it would take six to seven months to complete the bridge.

“My goal is to have that open before school starts in August,” McKee said. “I know that’s a lofty goal but we’re going to attempt to do that.”

 

Other business:

 

BOC overturns setback variance for gas pumps

Gas pumps denied
The board of commissioners on Feb. 15 overturned an administrative variance approved by Planning and Development Director Jason Streetman that would allow a convenience store at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and War Hill Park Road to push the property’s setback 10 feet along Hwy. 53 and five feet along War Hill Park Road to put up a canopy for gas pumps.

The board Feb. 15 overturned an administrative variance approved by Planning and Development Director Jason Streetman that would allow a convenience store at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and War Hill Park Road to push the property’s setback 10 feet along Hwy. 53 and five feet along War Hill Park Road to put up a canopy for gas pumps.

Streetman stated in a letter to the BOC that he approved the variance due to existing structures on the property limiting where the canopy could be placed. He based the decision on a 2007 variance that allowed the setback to be pushed back 9 feet along Hwy. 53, meaning his approval pushed the setback in that area back only an additional foot..

Streetman has the right to approve a setback variance up to 10 feet without the board’s approval.

Owners of the Chevron across the street from the convenience store appealed Streetman’s decision over concerns about visual obstruction at the intersection and safety concerns for their customers with trucks turning around. Streetman noted the Chevron owners too were previously approved for a setback variance for a fuel canopy.

Neil Hornsey, representing the owners of the convenience store, said that the Georgia Department of Transportation had seen his client’s plans for the building and canopy and approved.

District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby asked Hornsey why the owners couldn’t build the canopy closer to the store, eliminating the need for the variance. Hornsey replied that it wouldn’t be convenient, and would require the owners to limit the number of gas pumps or take parking spaces from the front of the store.

Hamby motioned to overturn Streetman’s decision to grant the variance. District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett and District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix voted to grant the appeal; District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines voted against it.

 

30 homes to be built on Moss Road

Moss subdivision
The board of commissioners approved a rezoning for a 46.7 acre lot off Henry Grady Hwy. and Moss Road, where a 30-home development is planned. The rezoning changes the property from Residential Agricultural to Residential Sub Rural so that the single family homes can be built.

The board approved a rezoning for a 46.7 acre lot off Henry Grady Hwy. and Moss Road, where a 30-home development is planned. The rezoning changes the property from Residential Agricultural to Residential Sub Rural so that the single family homes can be built.

The land is currently owned by the Donald Moss Estate. The development would contain lots no smaller than one acre and as large as three acres, according to the developer. No amenities are proposed, and the development would be accessed via Magnolia Way, a private roadway off Moss Road.

Stipulations limit access to Moss Road only after residents of Emmett Moss Road, a gravel road that adjoins Magnolia Way on the opposite end from Moss Road, stated they did not want extra traffic on the road from the development.

Other stipulations state that the development should be limited to a maximum of 30 lots, that homes should have a minimum of 1,200 square feet of heated floor space and that all roads created to serve the subdivision should be paved and be the financial responsibility of the applicant or owner.

The commission approved the rezoning with Fausett voting against it.

 

Text amendments to land use, Ga. 400 guidelines proposed

The board held the first of two public hearings on proposed amendments to the county’s Land Use Resolution and the Development and Design Guidelines for the Ga. 400 corridor.

Streetman presented the proposed amendments, which included some rewording and clarifications as well as new guidelines.

One amendment in particular would place a 15 acre minimum requirement on agricultural farm operations used for wedding venues.

Another hearing on the proposed amendments will be held March 15.

You can view the full text amendments proposed here. The amendments begin on page 239 of the Feb. 15 voting session packet.