Sunday, August 31, 2014

Freddy’s At Epps Bridge Centre Expected To Be Selling Custard In December, According To Oconee County Permit

Footers For Cheddar's Too

Oconee County has issued a building permit for Freddys’ Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, and construction is underway for the foundation footers for that building and for Cheddar’s Casual Cafe, to be located next door at the Epps Bridge Parkway entrance to Epps Bridge Centre.

The two restaurants will occupy reconfigured outparcels 1 and 2 in Epps Bridge Centre, bringing to three the number of outparcels in the complex with tenants. The core of the mall is surrounded by a total of 12 outparcels.

Construction for Freddy’s is expected to be completed by Dec. 15, according to the building permit. Total value of the 3,010-square-foot-building is estimated at $615,000.

Footers for Freddy's
Cheddar's On Right

The earliest Cheddar’s is expected to be operating is Nov. 14, according to documents filed with the Oconee County Utility Department.

Access to Cheddar’s will be possible from the parking lot of Freddy’s and vice versa, and initial construction for the two restaurants is moving in tandem.

Permit Dates

The permit for Freddy’s was issued to Athens Custard with a Wichita, Kan., address on Aug. 15.

The permit for Cheddars was issued to C & P Restaurant Company of Macon on Aug. 11. That permit does not list a completion date.

The applicant does not always pick up the permit when it is issued, and the Oconee County Code Enforcement Office normally does not release the permit documents to the public until the applicant receives them.

Freddy's In Yellow Highlight
Cheddar's To Left
Click To Enlarge

I picked up the permit documents for Freddy’s on Friday.

Parkway Boulevard

On Tuesday, the Oconee County Board of Commissioners gave tentative approval to a contract for design work for a new roadway that will open up additional land near Epps Bridge Centre for development. Final approval is set for Tuesday night.

The roadway, being called Parkway Boulevard Extension, would bring traffic from Epps Bridge Parkway just after it crosses into Oconee County from Athens-Clarke County to the Oconee Connector just opposite Epps Bridge Centre.

The goal of the project is to make accessible land behind Lowe’s and Wal-Mart for future commercial development.

Parkway Boulevard now runs from Epps Bridge Parkway to Kohl’s but is blocked off at that point.

The new road would turn back to and connect with the new Oconee Connector, crossing 114 acres owned by the Evelyn and Frank Gordy Family and 41 acres owned by Rod and J.L. Wright as well as three other parcels.

Timing A Mystery

The timing of the Parkway Boulevard project remains something of a mystery.

Public Works Director Emil Beshara told me last Tuesday night that he was instructed to get the bids for the design work, with the deadline for submission on Aug. 7, but he would not tell me who gave him that directive.

Beshara said the project is not on any of the county roadway project lists, but he also said it has been discussed by BOC members in the past.

The contract was tentatively awarded to low bidder Abe Consulting, 2410 Hog Mountain Road, just west of Butler’s Crossing. That bid was $96,925.

Costco Rumor

The rumor has been circulating for at least a couple of years that Costco, a membership-only warehouse club that competes with Sam’s Club, is considering opening a store in the area, and some speculation now is focusing on the area to be opened up by the Parkway Boulevard Extension.

The Oconee Enterprise reported in last week’s edition that Maxie Price, owner of a cluster of properties bordered by SR 316, the Oconee Connector, Mars Hill Road and Virgil Langford Road, said he had unsuccessfully sought to get Costco interested in his properties.

Price said he believes Costco remains interested in locating in the area.

Price made his comments in a hearing before the Oconee County Board of Equalization, which hears appeals from taxpayers regarding property assessment.

I was not at the meeting, but I was able to confirm that Price made these comments from two of the three members of the Board of Equalization.

Costco is headquartered in Issaquah, Wash., near Seattle.

Epps Bridge Centre Outparcels

The Epps Bridge Centre’s 12 outparcels stretch along both sides of the Epps Bridge Parkway entranceway to the shopping mall and along the mall’s frontage with the Oconee Connector.

At present, only one of those parcels has tenants. It is occupied by Sleep Number and Vitamin Shoppe. The permit for that building was issued in July of last year.

In discussions before the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners, mall developer Frank Bishop of Atlanta has indicated that restaurants would be the most likely tenants of the outparcels.

Epps Bridge Centre Core

Bishop encouraged the Board of Commissioners to put the liquor-by-the-drink referendum on the November ballot to help him lure restaurants to those properties.

Mall Core Occupied

Most of the core of the Mall is occupied, but at least nine small storefronts had signs on them today indicating they were available for tenants.

A tenth, designated as future space for Children’s Place, remains unoccupied.

Space remains available next to Marshall’s for construction of a building for another large retailer.

According to Oconee County Tax records, all of the land in the shopping mall except that occupied by the theater remains in the hands of Bishop’s Epps Bridge Centre LLC.

An attached piece of property behind the theater also is owned by Bishop but is undeveloped.

Turnout Rates In Oconee County May Primary And July Runoff Elections Mask Low Overall Election Participation

16.1 Percent Voted Both Elections

Oconee County’s 23.4 percent turnout in the May 20 primary election and 20.9 percent turnout in the July 22 runoff mask the fact that a smaller percentage of the county’s electorate participated in both elections.

Only 16.1 percent of the electorate voted both in May and again in July, with another 7.2 percent participating in the May primary but not in the July runoff and 4.8 percent voting in the July runoff but not in the May election.

Click To Enlarge

A total of 5,147 voters went to the polls in May, and 4,586 went to the polls in July, for a difference of only 561 voters.

In fact, a total of 6,178 of Oconee County’s 21,985 registered voters–or 28.1 percent--went to the polls on May 20, July 22, or both of those dates, analysis of voting records from those two elections shows.

Democrats Didn’t Return

Of the 4,585 Oconee County residents who voted with a Republican ballot in May, 74.7 percent also cast a ballot in July, while only 20.1 percent of the 533 who cast a Democratic ballot in May also voted in July.

Those who voted with a Republican ballot in May had to vote with a Republic ballot in July if they wanted to vote in a party runoff. And those who voted with a Democratic ballot in May could only use a Democratic ballot in July.

Of the 1,048 who cast a ballot in July but had not voted in May, 1,025 or 97.8 percent voted with a Republican ballot.

Only a handful of people voted in the elections without choosing the ballot of either of the two parties conducting primaries.

Runoff Background

The July 22 runoff ballot for the Republican Party contained the names of two candidates for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate, for the U.S. House of Representatives, and for the State School Superintendent.

It also contained the names of incumbent Margaret Hale and W.E. Wilkes, both seeking nomination for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners. They were the two candidates from the three-way race for that slot on the May ballot.

Wilkes defeated Hale in the Oconee County Board of Commissioners Post 3 contest in July, with 51.2 percent of the vote.

Democrats who voted in the July 22 runoff only were voting in the State School Superintendent race.

Oconee County’s turnout rate in the May primary was higher than the statewide rate of 19.6 percent. The state has not released a final turnout rate for the July 22 runoff.

Voting Records

Voting records are public documents that can be examined to prevent voter fraud.

The public records indicate who votes in each individual election and, in the case of primary elections, which ballot the voter uses, that is, whether the voter chose to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary.

Voters do not register by party in Georgia, and an individual can choose to vote in the primary of any party.

The public records, of course, do not show for whom an individual actually voted.

I obtained the electronic records available to the public from the May primary and the July runoff elections from the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration. I merged the records from the two elections into a single data file to analyze which voters participated in the two elections.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oconee County Commissioners Approve One New Road But Put A Halt To Three Controversial Road Project Agreements With State

Discussion Of Prezoning Continues

The landowners behind Wal-Mart and Lowe's on Epps Bridge Parkway got approval of a contract for design work for a new roadway to open up their land for future development.

The Industrial Development Authority got encouragement to continue its work on prezoning of land now classified for other use to spur more commercial and industrial development in the county.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Oconee County To Consider Design Work For Roadway To Open More Land For Development Across From Epps Bridge Centre

Gordy Family Tract

Oconee County will soon begin design work for an extension of Parkway Boulevard, which will open up new land for development behind Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, if the Board of Commissioners approves a design services contract for the project tomorrow night.

The new Parkway Boulevard would be an extension of the road that now leads to Kohl’s from Epps Bridge Parkway. The new road would turn back to and connect with the new Oconee Connector, crossing 114 acres owned by the Evelyn and Frank Gordy Family and 41 acres owned by Rod and J.L. Wright.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oconee County Development Authority Says County Should Begin Zoning Land To Meet County Plans

US 78 And SR 316 Corridors Identified

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority is calling on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to set aside its current practice of rezoning property only when an owner requests the change in favor of advance zoning to reflect county plans for future development.

The IDA is scheduled to deliver a report to the commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday night calling on the county to identify key commercial corridors and “pre-zone all parcels in those corridors consistent with the intended long-term use.”

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oconee County Commissioners Scheduled To Get An Update On Controversial GDOT Project Framework Agreements

No Action Expected

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to get an update on Tuesday night on pending project agreements with the Georgia Department of Transportation for widening of Jimmy Daniell Road, for widening of Daniells Bridge Road, and for construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road.

At present, the BOC is not scheduled to take any action on those agreements.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mars Hill Road Widening Will Be “Fun” And “Painful,” Oconee County Public Works Director Told Citizen Group

Work To Start Soon

Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara last week described the upcoming reconstruction and widening of Mars Hill road as “fun,” “challenging” and “painful” in his latest update of the project to the Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning.

Beshara said he expects construction crews to be on the site next month or the month after and to continue working on the project for three years.