Thursday, March 26, 2015

Georgia Department Of Transportation Told Oconee County Representative To Pay $100,000 In Advance For Documents

Open Records Request

The Georgia Department of Transportation has told Rep. Regina Quick that it will respond to her open records request for documents about the operation of the department, but only if she pays more than $100,000 in advance.

Matthew Cline, general counsel to GDOT, said Quick’s 51-item request, submitted on March 17, would take up to six months to complete, and the Department would not start work until she paid the search and copying costs, as allowed by the state's open records law.

Official House Picture

The first item on Quick’s list related to a request by Oconee County for funds to construct a right turn lane off SR 316 at U.S. 78 coming from Athens to accommodate Caterpillar. Quick represents three precincts of Oconee County, including the Bogart precinct where Caterpillar is located.

Quick modified and limited her request in an email message to Cline this afternoon, indicating that she will deliver a check tomorrow to cover the costs for the shortened list of items sought.

No Documents Yet

Quick told me in an email message this morning that so far she has not received any documents.

She also sent me a copy of an email message she had sent on Monday to Jamie Boswell, district representative to the Georgia Department of Transportation, asking him for assistance in obtaining the documents for her.

Boswell made a reference to Quick’s request of him during an interview I did with him on Monday.

Quick had sent me on Sunday (March 22) a copy of her open records request submitted to Russell McMurry, director of GDOT. I did not mention that to Boswell.

Nature Of Request

Quick’s 51-item open records request asked for details of “motor fuel funds” received by GDOT in 2015, standards used to classify bridges as structurally deficient, and the amount of federal motor fuel taxes paid by Georgia citizens in 2014.

She also asked for a variety of emails and memos between GDOT personnel and House and Senate members and staff.

Quick wanted documents on the use of motor fuel funds to pay debt services.

And she wanted detailed costs for the access for the proposed Cobb Braves stadium project.

Quick has been a critic of GDOT, and she voted against House Bill 170, which will, if passed, increase motor fuel taxes in the state. That bill is now in a House and Senate conference committee.

Caterpillar Exit

In her open records request, Quick said she wanted documents related to Project No. M004668 in Oconee County. That was a project to widen U.S. 441 at High Shoals Road in the south of the county.

When I questioned her about that via email, she said that she was interested in “an Oconee County Caterpillar related request” to the GDOT Quick Response Program.

Quick has not responded to my requests for an explanation of her interest in that project, but it remains on her shortened list of documents she is seeking from GDOT.

Emil Beshara, county Public Works director, told me on Tuesday that the county had sought Quick Response funding for the project but had been told GDOT has no more money available in that fund.

Beshara said funding is now being requested as an “intersection improvement project.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GDOT Board Member Boswell Acknowledges Benefit To His Clients Of Daniells Bridge Road Flyover In Oconee County

Said Also Benefits 95 Percent Of County

Jamie Boswell, commercial real estate broker and area representative to the Georgia Transportation Board, readily admits that his clients will benefit from the proposed Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover of SR Loop 10.

“I would think it is accurate to say that it would make those properties more attractive for development,” he said. “I would think anybody would agree with that.”

Sunday, March 22, 2015

New Seafood Restaurant Planned For Out Parcel of Epps Bridge Centre, Oconee County Documents Show

Eight Out Parcels Available

Bone Island Grillhouse Restaurants has submitted a preliminary site development plan to the Oconee County Planning Department for construction of a restaurant at the Epps Bridge Parkway entrance to the Epps Bridge Centre.

The new restaurant will occupy one of the 12 out parcels of the shopping center, bringing to four the number of out parcels with a tenant.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oconee County Water And Sewer Rates To Increase By 3 Percent If Budget Request Is Approved

Debt Service Plays Role

Oconee County water and sewer customers will pay an additional 3 percent in rates starting on July 1 if the Board of Commissioners accepts the budget proposed by Public Utilities Director Chris Thomas.

Thomas told the commissioners at a budget hearing on Wednesday evening that he would like to keep the rate the same for those who use the minimum amount of water, but rates for everyone else would go up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oconee County Planning Commission Delays Action On Presbyterian Homes Rezone Request

Review In April

The Oconee County Planning Commission tabled two controversial rezone requests last night, one without deliberation and the other following discussion lasting more than two and a half hours.

As expected, the Commission accepted the request of the developer of a proposed complex of office warehouses on Jimmy Daniell Road that the item be removed from the agenda.

Watkinsville Voters Approve Liquor-By-The-Drink Referendum In Special Election Today

Light Turnout

Watkinsville voters have overwhelmingly approved a referendum allowing for the sale of alcoholic drinks in addition to beer and wine in city restaurants.

By 4 to 1 ratios, voters in both the City Hall and Annex precincts authorized the Watkinsville Mayor and Council to pass an ordinance establishing liquor-by-the-drink licenses, bringing the city into line with the unincorporated parts of the county.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jimmy Daniell Road Rezone Likely To Be Removed From Oconee County Planning Commission Agenda For Tomorrow Night

PHG Main Remaining Item

The developer of a proposed complex of office warehouses on Jimmy Daniell Road on Friday requested that the project be withdrawn from the agenda of the Oconee County Planning Commission tomorrow night, simplifying what was to be a long and complex meeting.

Remaining on the agenda is a request by Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for a continuing care retirement center on 70 acres with frontage on U.S. 441 and Welbrook Road.