Love it or hate it, Dawson County is growing. If the past two years have shown us anything, growth is on an upwards trajectory in the county, especially around the Ga. 400 corridor. While 2016 was arguably the largest year for growth the county has ever seen, 2017 was no stranger to new restaurants and stores, and expansion is not likely to slow down in 2018.
As the county grows, roads have become a concern for the county and state. A need for safety as well as upkeep has created multiple roads projects across the county, though none thankfully on the same scale as the Continuous Flow Intersection that the Georgia Department of Transportation finished up last year.
The wrangling of developments and the impact on housing, services and schools will make who citizens put in place to govern Dawsonville, Dawson County and the state of Georgia even more crucial this year, as several political seats are up for election in the spring.
Though no one can be certain what the county will look like in five, 10 or 15 years, it's important to look ahead, as well as behind, to ensure our decisions today have their intended effect tomorrow.
County development and impact fees
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners is currently considering impact fee study results presented by Bill Ross of Ross & Associates, who in June of last year was tasked by the commission to begin the process of updating the county’s fee schedule and ordinance.
The county hasn’t collected impact fees since a 2009 vote by the former BOC to suspend them; the purpose of the fees is to help offset the costs of capital improvements and services in the county caused by new developments.
Ross presented a proposed impact fee schedule to the commission on Dec. 14, but a vote on whether or not to adopt the fees as presented or amend them has been tabled.
While the commission works to control future growth, stores will continue to open this year in the major shopping centers on Ga. 400.
Several stores have signed on to open in the Kroger Marketplace shopping center. Set to open this year are Restoration Hardware Outlet, Home Goods, Burlington Coat Factory, Bealls Outlet, America’s Best, Wendy’s and another location for Signature Nails & Spa, which currently has a location next to Ulta. United Community Bank has signed a lease on a space at the shopping center, but hasn’t yet announced plans to move or open a third Dawson location.
There are also currently 17 available spaces and 12 outparcels yet to be claimed in the shopping center.
The Publix shopping center, Dawson Crossroads, also has space available, with two outlots and seven spaces left. A lease is currently pending on one of the outlots, and Poke Bowl asian restaurant has signed on for one of the spaces.
Residents can also expect some movement this year on the Giorgio’s Italian restaurant coming next to the Northside Family Medicine and Urgent Care. Across the road next to Dunkin’ Donuts, an Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers is being built.
The county has been besieged by roadwork for a few years now, but at least the continuous flow intersection at Hwy. 53 and Ga. 400 got checked off last year.
The name of the game for 2018 will be roundabouts, and plenty of them.
Construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Hwy. 183 continues to chug along, and planning for a roundabout at Dawson Forest Road and Hwy. 9 S has long been underway.
No start date has been announced for a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy. 52 and Hwy. 183, but it is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020.
Dawson County Public Works Director David McKee has also recently been before the board of commissioners about expansion and improvement of Lumpkin Campground Road, which has seen a great increase in traffic since the construction and opening of the CFI.
But it could be a long time before the road sees any work.
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners recently approved a request for $20,000 to fund a concept improvement plan for the road project, which McKee has recommended be completed in three phases.
“We have met with GDOT folks and our state representative folks that have requested this information from the county so that they can then assist in funding the improvements to this corridor,” McKee said at a November work session. “This is the first step and kind of a long process.”
McKee has also applied for a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) to repair nine roads spanning 3.07 miles: A.T. Moore Road and Mt. Vernon Drive, as well as the Biscayne subdivision, which is comprised of Pelican Court, Biscayne Drive, Keys Court, Sandcastle Court, Bay Drive, Harbor Drive and Seabreeze Way.
And finally, the pesky traffic light and construction at the bridge on Hwy. 9 S at Dawson County Middle School: Look forward to action there through September.
Local and state elections
The first election cycle of the year is already underway this week as qualifying for the Mayor of Dawsonville position opened on Monday. The special election will be held March 20 to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor James Grogan.
Grogan has announced his intention to run for the post.
On the county level, the terms of District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett and District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby both expire in December, which means both seats will be up for election this year on May 22.
Commissioners must live in the district they represent, but are elected by the county at large.
Also up for election in May is the Dawson County Board of Education at large seat, currently held by Will Wade, and District 3 seat, currently held by Karen Armstrong.
Members of the board must live in the district they represent, but are elected by the county at large.
At the state level, the seats held by 9th District Representative Kevin Tanner and District 51 Senator Steve Gooch will be up for election as well. Tanner and Gooch have both said they intend to run for their respective offices again.
Edit- due to a source's error, information has been removed from the latest version of this story. Lidl discount grocery store currently has no plans to build a store in Dawson County.