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GDOT Decision in Oconee Benefits Transportation Board Member

Georgia Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle has overruled the District 1 project team in favor of a full access median commercial break for a major shopping center on the Oconee Connector between State Route 316 and Mars Hill Road.

In a letter dated Apr. 6 and posted by Oconee County planning staff on the county website on Wednesday, Pirkle told landowner Maxie Price she was honoring Price’s request for maintenance of the existing median break on the connector and for an access cut to his property.

As such, she was overturning a decision by Jason Dykes, District 1 traffic engineer, who in an email message to Oconee County on Jan. 12 said the existing median opening would be closed as part of a more than $70 million reconstruction of the SR 316 interchange with the Oconee Connector.

Pirkle copied her letter to District 1 engineer Kelvin Mullins, GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and Jamie Boswell. Boswell represents District 10 on the State Transportation Board, to which McMurry reports. Pirkle reports to McMurry.

Boswell also is owner of the Boswell Group, which is listing the property Price wants to sell for the shopping center. Boswell attended the meeting of the Oconee County Planning Commission in January when that body recommended against the rezone for the shopping center.

The Planning Commission on Monday is to take up again Price’s request for a rezone of the 47 acres he wants to see developed into a shopping center with a Publix as an anchor.

Access to the Oconee Connector and to Mars Hill Road has become the central sticking point in development of the shopping center on the 47 acres tucked between the Connector, Mars Hill Road, Virgil Langford Road and SR 316.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.