During their Oct. 6 voting session, the Board of Commissioners rejected a bid for the first phase of a planned project at Thompson Creek Park Road’s intersection with Dawson Forest Road and Ga. 53.
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The $556,429 bid would have covered the realignment of Thompson Creek Park Road ahead of a planned roundabout to address traffic at the intersection.
At the earlier work session that afternoon, County Manager David Headley explained that he and Public Works Director Jeff Hahn spoke with Georgia Department of Transportation officials before the BOC’s work session.
“What we learned was there have been some circumstances that have come up with GDOT now, they want to have the county go ahead and construct both projects…and change the [county’s] scope of work to include the roundabout as well as the realignment.”
The overall project was initially proposed three years ago to manage additional traffic from the nearby Penler project, now known as Advenir at Dawson Hills.
District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield mentioned that the project had been “on the back burner” since 2019 because of the county and GDOT’s preliminary work to be done for the land agreement and design.
The county’s initial responsibility for the project, Thompson Creek Park Road’s realignment, was and still is key for the roundabout to work properly. The land agreement between the county and two private landowners was approved back in June.
As part of the apartment complex’s approval, Penler will give $250,000 toward road improvements. The developer for the forthcoming Enclave at Dawson Forest project across the street will also give $125,000 for each of its rezoned parcels, a combined amount of $250,000.
SPLOST VI funds will likewise see an infusion of $250,000 into the project.
GDOT’s preliminary cost estimates for the roundabout portion of the project were over $350,000, in excess of the agency’s safety fund limit of about $200,000, Headley said.
The county manager then recommended the county go back and ask for an additional $500,000 in Local Maintenance Improvement Grant or LMIG money. Typically, Dawson County gets LMIG funds on an annual basis.
No match would be required as is usually the case with LMIG grants, Thurmond said.
Any amount awarded also wouldn’t affect the amount of LMIG Dawson County currently gets. The $500,000 would cover “any overages” like soil contamination, testing or other unexpected construction expenses, Headley added.
With taking the lead on the roundabout portion of the project, too, the onus would also be on Dawson County to monitor and control its construction.
Board members voted to reject the bid presented last Thursday so that the county could then readvertise both the realignment and roundabout phases for a new bid that would hopefully save the county money, Gaines said.
Headley said he expected an amended bid to be bought before the board by or maybe before the first of the year.
Gaines added that this course action represents “a path forward that allows us to be more in control.
“They don’t deny [the problem],” Gaines said of GDOT. “They want the intersection improved. It's just a chance of which pot it (money) comes out of, essentially.”
Lee Castleberry Road subdivision
A developer for a planned neighborhood in southern Dawson County will now be able to add more residential units to the project.
This past Thursday, the Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a rezoning request of 25.35 acres for 152 more residences in a proposed subdivision along Lee Castleberry Road, near Ga. 400. Now, the residential agricultural land has been rezoned residential multi family.
The BOC previously tabled a vote on the matter during their Sept. 15 voting session.
Last fall, the board approved Flowery Branch company Stark Land Development’s request to rezone eight acres for an initial 48 townhomes within the development.
With the Oct. 6 approval, plans for the neighborhood now include 200 residential units, broken down into 160 townhomes and 40 single-family, semi-detached houses.
BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond read the list of stipulations before the commissioners voted on the rezoning and related variance request.
As part of the stipulations, Stark Development will have to install a right deceleration and left turn lane along Lee Castleberry Road going into the subdivision. The roadway will have to be widened for 12-foot lanes with two-foot shoulders, and the road will need to be resurfaced along its entire length.
The county also required a corner pocket park at Lumpkin Campground and Lee Castleberry roads, as well as eight-foot sidewalks along Lee Castleberry and a five-foot one along Stacie Lane, both extending for the entire frontage toward the Ga. 400 right of way. The county will donate right of way and/or easements as needed.
Once the project is halfway complete, the developer will be expected to give $150,000 toward improvements on Lumpkin Campground Road.
The developer will also be required to donate 20 additional feet of right of way along Lee Castleberry Road and Stacie Lane upon the final plat being issued.
Residential permits are not to be issued until Jan. 1, 2024 “to make sure adequate service delivery is in place,” said District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines.
There will be two entrances, one each coming off of Lee Castleberry Road and Stacie Lane. Parking along neighborhood interior streets will be prohibited, and that will be enforced by an HOA.
The stipulations did not include mention of installing a traffic light at Lee Castleberry Road and Ga. 400. Even with the projected density of the area with the forthcoming Pointe Grand apartments across the state highway, developer Billy Stark said on Sept. 15 that his firm wouldn’t be able to put a light there because of Georgia Department of Transportation control over the roadway.
Gaines reemphasized the fixes coming to Lee Castleberry Road, saying that those major improvements have “been needed for quite some time.”
During Stark Land Development’s Sept. 15 hearing for the rezone, lawyer Simon Bloom represented the firm, then pointing out his client’s plans for a gradual transition in housing density from the townhouses to the detached homes.
“The best evidence of why this development or property should not cannot stay as zoned is dictated and will be told by the market,” Bloom said at the time. “Nobody is buying this property for any other reason.”
“I would like to say just in general that the higher-density zonings are not very palatable to me just for the burdens they place on the county and the county’s taxpayers,” District 4 Commissioner and BOC Vice-Chair Emory Dooley said on Oct. 6. “But I also respect the right for the property owner to be able to sell their property.”
Dooley added that this land use dynamic can be “hard to balance” and said he “appreciate[d] the developer’s concessions and help offsetting the burden put on taxpayers because of this development.”