Residents Disappointed Over Clear Cutting of Bush Road Acreage

The trees have been removed from the 10-acre site, officially named Peachtree Reserve. But nearby residents question why the land was clear cut.

The developer of the 16-home subdivision on Bush Road in Peachtree Corners recently cleared the land in preparation for building the new subdivision named Peachtree Reserve.

But the surrounding neighbors were surprised to see the 10-acre site cleared completely of trees. A number of residents, including Bob Martell a nearby homeowner, attended several UPCCA land use meetings in March 2012, with the developer and walked away from those meetings assured that the property would not be clear cut, or so they thought.

A resolution was drawn up and signed by Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in May of this year spelling out just what the developer agreed to do.

Many who had attended the two land-use meetings had understood that a buffer of trees along Bush Road would remain. And that the land would remain wooded until each lot was sold.

But that was not part of the agreement, said Brian Lackey, Director of Planning & Zoning for Gwinnett County. "Buffers do not apply to property frontage," he explained.

And the item on the resolution that spells out that natural vegetation is to remain - only applies until a development permit was issued. Lackey said when the permit was issued, the developer could clear the entire site for development.

"I'm disappointed in Gwinnett's interpretation," said a disgruntled Martell, who owns a home directly across the street from the development. Martell's view has changed drastically in recent weeks, once he gazed across the road at a thick strand of trees, today he has a view of a construction port-a-potty, dump trucks and bulldozers.

"We knew it wouldn't last forever," said Martell, of his view. But Martell said he was counting on the resolution that he thought spelled out exactly what the surrounding homeowners would see developed on the property, including a buffer that would help blend the new development with the surrounding homes.

Although the development is located within the city limits of Peachtree Corners, Gwinnett County is overseeing the development as the project began prior to the city's incorporation. Lackey said the county is checking every day to make sure the work is being conducted according to the county's regulations.

A new developer took over the project during the summer after the original developer bowed out. The original plans included 19 homes, the new developer has reduced the number of homes to 16 and increased the price and square footage of the homes to be built.

There are also new site plans and landscape plans which have been approved. The new plan shows the retention pond, originally located on the far right side of the property, will now run along Bush Road. A copy of those plans are included with this story.

You may also be interested in reading:

New Developer Takes Over Bush Road Project

Bush Road Plans Get Go Ahead at UPCCA Meeting


Rico Figliolini November 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Having been on the Gwinnett Planning Commission for 4 years I can tell you that the above is accurate with regard to clear cutting. However, that could have been avoided in the conditions of the zoning. I can't tell you how many times I required site plan approval to make sure that plans drawn up had to follow my recommendations. Otherwise, the planning commission not the Board of Commissioners would not approve the site plan. Fortunately our planning commission has a way to avoid what happened here in future cases. They can condition that lots remained wooded until sold, that trees tagged cannot be cut down and that anything they condition must be followed. I'm sure the commission would do that, if not, the citizenry should insist on it.
Robert J. Nebel November 21, 2012 at 02:51 PM
It's more than obvious that the attendees at the land-use meetings were not informed about the "Buffers do not apply to property frontage" clause. Now, area residents are experiencing a scorched parcel of land filled with tractors, dump trucks and port-a-potties -- not to mention the noise emanating from the site. The end result will be more homes that will be a challenge to sell and a retention pond for mosquitoes to breed and vermin to call home.
Mary Jones November 21, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Ah! Our Gwinnett County Officials strike again. Next, we will hear that because of rain, sleet, cold weather etc. building will need to wait until Spring!!!
Gary November 21, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Why is it so hard for people to be truthful about projects like this. I think Peachtree Corners is just as responsible as Gwinnett County. Can't they find a person that will come to these meetings with full knowledge of what is said in a site plan for approval and what will happen. Another amazing dissapointment by people that want us to trust them and what happened, we got duped.
David B. Manley November 22, 2012 at 03:02 AM
This situation presents lessons that I hope those in Peachtree Corners (and elsewhere) learn and remember - 1) the logical presumption that representations and items in writing should be enforceable can trumped by procedure, 2) if a matter involving law is important to you, get legal advice, 3) as Commissioner Rico Figliolini indicated, items such as reasonable tree preservation, buffers, and landscaping must be in the conditions of zoning to be enforceable, 4) despite Gwinnett County's ordinances and code being presently in place for Peachtree Corners, the city must have a well crafted land use plan of its own and fine tune its zoning and sign ordinances, and building codes, including in anticipation of development like that on Bush Road, the sort of business and residential development that should be encouraged, the balance of residential and commercial property, the balance of different types of residential property, the use of low maintenance and attractive building materials, construction quality, visual pollution that may be caused by such things as billboards, and temporary and garish signs, maintaining and increasing green space, potential overbuilding, maintaining and increasing property values, property maintenance, enforceability of enactments, etc.
R T November 28, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Uh, folks, I live within 1000 feet of the project, and I think other than even more traffic, my life will change very little. The bottom line is you don't think the trees were important enough. If you did, you'd have bought the property. But now, with no skin in the game, you're whining to big government to tell landowners what they can or cannot do with their own land. Ever hear of "imminent domain?" With your whining you are empowering the government to broaden their interpretation of this un-Constitutional principle. Just remember, the next time big government intervenes, it may be to tell you what YOU can't do with YOUR OWN PROPERTY. Gwinnett is supposed to be such a Conservative bastion, but you locals go whining to the government rather than using your own money to do things. It WILL come back to bite your butt!!
Rico Figliolini November 28, 2012 at 03:05 PM
RT, I'm sure you don't have a monetary connection to the property and just airing your thoughts with regard to all these comments. A decade ago developers used to request rezoning of a property, clear cut it and then flip their investment to a larger developer - not caring what it looked like, how long it stayed that way, whether rain run-off would effect other property owners, etc. I'm not saying that's the case here. I know it's cheaper to clear cut a piece of land than it is to carefully develop it with existing trees. I'm sure they'll plant the 5 gallon six-foot trees in their place instead. Government is not always some evil thing out there. But, it is there to watch and stop those that want to take advantage of every minimal thing companies will do for profit. Being a conservative doesn't mean I don't like trees. I just like stupid. BTW Eminent Domain has it's place. It has been used to created schools, hospitals, libraries, parks and police stations. But, I agree it has been abused too. Democracy can be messy at times and down right awful, but it's a work in progress.
Bob Martell November 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
RT, if you were at the meetings with the developer back in March, you would know that this isnt an issue of folks using government to tell people what they can do with their property, its a case of getting the government to enforce the agreements it made with the developer on resident's behalf. Dozens of your neighbors came to the meetings because they didnt share your myopic view that it only meant a little more traffic. The original plans called for nineteen 2400 sq foot homes to be built, to sell in the low to mid $300's, and a stormwater retention pond located in the southeast corner of the property...during the meetings with the developer it was agreed that there would be existing vegetation left along Bush Rd, there would be certain plantings to shroud the retention pond from view and that the property would not be clear cut. Concern was expressed that given the economy and recent history, we wished to avoid a situation where the builder goes bust before the project is complete, leaving a barren muddy landscape save for a bunch of blue pvc pipes sticking up out of the ground. The resulting agreements were in writing and approved by the county.
Bob Martell November 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The "new" plans call for sixteen 4800 sq foot homes to be built, the retention pond has been made larger and has been moved several hundred feet west of its original location, the existing vegetation along Bush Rd has been cleared as has much of the remainder of the property. Yet for some reason it was decided that these drastic changes to the original plan didnt need to be re-approved. Your neighbors only want the government to make the developer do what he said he would do, and that the govt agreed to before the first shovelful of dirt was moved. If you're worried about the govt telling you what to do with your property, you need look no further than all the codes and ordinances that the new City of Peachtree Corners has passed and or adopted lately. Emminent domain is the least of your worries.
Howard Haugland December 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Yet another punch in the gut from our illustrious County Commissioners, Planning and Zoning, and all the other Despots. Deceitful, crooked, what else is new in Gwinnett County ?
R T December 05, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Bottom line is still that you want the government to tell people how to use their own land. That's what Bob's "agreements" entail. No Rico, I do not have any skin in the game, but at least I recognize the fact. With regard to eminent domain, no hospital or school is worth it if the property was taken from the owner at a government dictated price. No Bob, not myopic, but thanks for the personal attack and mild vitriol. I'm what some enlightened individuals would call a realist. Cheers!


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