From today’s Sentinel:

Planned mixed-use development questioned by state agencies

by Helen McCoy/Staff Writer

The Douglasville City Council voted in a special meeting Thursday to approve the city’s response to questions about a proposed development between Highway 5 and the Bright Star Road Connector.

But it was not without disagreement.

Douglas Place is a mixed-use development in excess of nine million square feet, according to City Manager Bill Osborne. The Connector crosses through it, he said.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) are conducting a Development of Regional Impact review to assess the city’s plan of action on several issues, including how it will deal with the additional traffic the proposed development will bring.

In its committee meetings prior to the called meeting, council members heard presentations from Michael O’Connor, an executive with Conroy Development Company, and Greg Teague, head of Croy Engineering’s Transportation Division.

Their goal, along with the city’s, is to move the organizations’ initial impressions from negative to positive.

“I don’t think they realize about the Rose Avenue and Highway 5 project and the Bright Star Road Connector,” O’Connor said, adding that the ARC and GRTA don’t think the project is in the best interest of the community.

The two organizations are looking at the city’s plans regarding transportation, storm water, land use and other factors to make their determination,

There was concern that the organizations might have received comment from someone locally outside of city government that could influence their review. City officials wanted to make it clear that, while they work cooperatively with the Douglas County government, the city of Douglasville is in the driver’s seat where this project is concerned.

Councilman Terry Miller expressed his concern in the committee and called meetings about what he said amounted to an endorsement of a project council members were just getting a look at for the first time.

“We’re endorsing something that might not be in the best interest of the community,” he said. “We’re being asked to endorse something at the last minute.”

He asked that they “put the brakes on,” saying that the city has been “burned before” in approving plans that look one way on paper but the project looked different when complete.

Mayor Pro Tem Roy Mims told Miller to “look at the big picture.”

“You’re not being asked to endorse the plan,” he said, reminding Miller that this was just the city’s response to questions about the project.

Councilman John Schildroth explained that the goal of the resolution was to “keep the dialogue between the parties involved — the city of Douglasville and the ARC — not the county.”

Miller and Councilwoman Callye B. Holmes said they didn’t think it right to discount concerns expressed by the ARC and GRTA.

The resolution was approved with Councilmen Charles Banks, Dennis McClain, Mims and Schildroth in favor of it. Miller and Holmes opposed it, and Councilwoman LaShun Burr Danley abstained.

City officials, along with O’Connor and Teague, will meet with the ARC Monday and with GRTA Tuesday to present their plan of action and to respond to questions.

“We are trying to have an official position from the council before these meetings,” Osborne said.