Planning and Development:
Development Studies.Two very important planning studies are under way. Bleakly Advisory Group is performing research and analysis on demographic and market patterns along the Buford Highway and Highway 20 Corridors. Planning staff is preparing to present the findings to the Mayor and Council from the Buford Highway study within the next couple of months. The information gathered from these studies will assist in the progress of a cohesive vision for the future development of each corridor. Planning staff will lead the city’s leadership team in visioning exercises for the Buford Highway study while TSW, a full service planning firm, has been contracted to lead the visioning and planning exercises for the Highway 20 study.
Master Plan Funding. Looking forward to 2017, the Planning staff has coordinated with the DDA and submitted a funding request to conduct a major update to our Downtown Development Master Plan under the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Livable Center’s Initiative (LCI) program. Awards for funding the major plan update are expected to be announced by February 2017 and completed by the second or third quarter of 2017.
Development Permits. Residential development continues to show strong growth. Department staff has worked to issue 110 more permits than the same time last year which represents an 80% increase over 2015. New commercial development has remained consistent through the second and third quarter of 2016. However, year to date (2016 = 110, 101,000 SF) staff has permitted nearly twice the square footage over the last year (2015 = 56,559 SF).
Code Enforcement. The team worked diligently to perform 286 building code inspections this past month which was an increase from November 2015 which saw 165 inspections. Staff also performed 195 zoning and property maintenance inspections which came in significantly higher than the 142 performed in November 2015.
Parks and Recreation:
Recreation. Our Recreation staff continues to maintain the festive atmosphere downtown with the installation of decorations adorning the streetlights, additional lighting around the ice rink and The Bowl, and of course the two beautiful Christmas trees bracketing City Hall. The area is well lit at night and offers a cheery and warm environment to the downtown area for skaters and visitors to enjoy. Staff is hosting several sports at the Buice gymnasium as pickle ball play continues there on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, along with the Georgia Force basketball team, which practices weekday afternoons.
Golf. The golf course has finally received some much-needed rain over the last two weeks. Although the grasses are now dormant, the course continues to look good. The last couple of months have been positive for the course and in turn, totals are expected to be slightly higher than last year. The course hosted a few big tournaments in November and saw play increase about 40% over the same month last year.
Marketing, Events and Economic Development:
Holiday Celebration. The annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration were held early this month. The city hosted free carriage rides, free photos with Santa, a Holiday Market and ice skating. Approximately 500 families came out to enjoy the event, despite the bad weather. The Sugar Hill Elementary Choir performed along with All Stars Performing Arts Academy and the Broad Street Concert Band.
Mural Update. Mural artist, Jennie Osiek, has almost completed the mural on the Suite Spot near Level Creek. Feedback from the community has been very positive as they watch the depiction of “The Sweet Life” take shape.
Youth Council. The Sugar Hill Youth Council and Youth Ambassadors continue to prove they are leaders in their community. The group held a work day at Gwinnett Tech this month and built and filled raised garden beds for the Horticulture Department. Council Members Mike Sullivan, Susie Gajewski and Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Hembree worked alongside the students on the project.
Marketing. Articles or advertisements for the city have been placed in Suwanee Magazine, the Gwinnett Daily Post, Mom’s Local, Atlanta Parent, Southern Distinction Magazine and the Gwinnett Citizen. Vida 96.5 is doing a spotlight video for their website at the Ice Rink this month as well.
Public Works and Utilities:
Gas Department. Construction locate activity is slowing down with 667 locates for the month of November, down 200 requests from October. Staff has been working diligently to fill the 54 work orders and connection of 22 new services as the city continues to improve and grow. The Department remains active in the area of regulatory compliance; staying current on operator qualifications, maintaining emergency equipment, and completing public awareness training through our partnership with the gas authority.
Street & Stormwater Department. With the high levels of rain we have received, attention turns again to storm drains and keeping the inlets free of debris and trash. Our staff has been working to clean the inlets, while collecting leaves and grass clippings curbside to keep these sources out of the drainage system. Staff is also working to complete development inspections associated with many of the residential developments in our community as they approach completion. Department staff has also been working on the relocation of one of the buildings on recently acquired property to their shop on Hillcrest. This will make good use of the asset and will prevent the city from having to demolish the structure.
Bowl Improvements. Repairs continue to the Splash Park as the contractor is wrapping up the concrete pad replacement and work begins on the rest of the pavers in the plaza area. The repairs are expected to continue into February and March, working around the dismantling of the rink at the close of their season.
EpiCenter. Earthwork is closing out with nearly 34,000 cubic yards of dirt moved from the site and a twenty foot retaining wall left at the base of West Broad. We have tied in most of the utilities along the roadway with one more crucial connection waiting on Gwinnett County to complete. The contractor is working to dodge the rain events and to keep the site active with the target of beginning foundations next. Aggregate pier foundations will be installed beginning later next week.
Highway 20 Widening. CW Matthews missed their November 30th deadline for opening up the road completely; however, they continue to work towards opening the lanes on portions of the project by Christmas break. Crews are working to install the guardrail and apply striping before they can re-open lanes.