City Approves Annexation, Rezoning of Peak at University Parkway Property
The 157-acre tract of land near the intersection of Highway 29 and Highway 316 is now part of Dacula.
After months of work, the annexation of a 157-acre piece of property into the city limits of Dacula has been completed.
"It has been a long and tedious process," said Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks.
City Attorney Dennis Still agreed.
"This has been the most protracted thing I've ever seen in my life to put it bluntly," Still said.
Over a year ago, a property development group approached the City of Dacula with the idea of turning 157 acres near the intersection of Winder Highway and Highway 316 into a "live, work, play" community.
In June of 2012, the development group filed an application to have the property annexed into the city. Representatives of the group had previously expressed a desire to be annexed into Dacula due to the city's ability to swiftly respond to planning and development issues.
The following month, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to execute a letter and resolution objecting to the annexation citing infrastructure and fire protection among their concerns. The matter was scheduled for arbitration in September 2012, but was settled when the city and county reached an agreement just hours before the arbitration proceedings were scheduled to commence.
As a result of the agreement, the annexation was allowed to proceed contingent upon the city complying with certain specified conditions primarily related to the types of businesses to be allowed and development density. The plans also had to be reviewed by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).
"This has been the most heavily vetted annexation and rezoning process of its kind possible and everybody in the world has had their little finger in it wanting to change something one way or the other," Still said.
In the end, the Dacula City Council unanimously approved the annexation of the property and its rezoning from agricultural and general business uses to planned mixed use development (PMUD). However, even with those issues settled, it could be quite some time before anything happens with the property.
Prior to Thursday night's meeting, Mitch Peevy of Mill Creek Consulting said it could be a year or more before a suitable user for the property is located. Peevy said Walton Investing, along with the State of Georgia, will be involved in the marketing of the property.
The project, which Peevy said will require a $400 million capital investment including $30 million for Highway 316 improvements alone, will bring more than just new businesses to the area. A number of transportation improvements are planned as part of the development and even more will be funded by the state provided the developer fulfills specified conditions.
The state-funded transportation improvements, which total approximately $100 million according to Dacula Planning and Development Director Joey Murphy, include improvements not only in the immediate area of the development, but also projects such as replacing the CSX bridge on Dacula Road, improvements to the intersection of Dacula Road and Winder Highway and improvements at the intersection of Fence Road and Dacula Road.
In other business at Thursday night's meeting, the Dacula City Council:
- Tabled the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with Gwinnett County regarding the new ad valorem tax collection process.
- Approved the purchase of an "Olde Mill Park" sign to be erected on Second Avenue in front of Olde Mill Park.
- Authorized the city to apply for the 2013 Community Block Development Grant (CBDG). Potential projects for the grant money including widening Tanner Road, paving a portion of Eastside Drive and roadwork in the Whisper Woods subdivision.
You might also be interested in reading:
- Annexation, Rezoning Hearing for Peak at University Parkway Project Set for Feb. 7
- Dacula City Council Passes Revised Mixed-Use Development Ordinance
- Investment Group: ‘We’re Here for the Long Term’
- Dacula Property Eyed for Development
- Proposed Ordinance Amendments Would Pave Way for Apartments in Dacula
- Work Continues on Dacula Planned Mixed Use Ordinance Revisions