Jim Marshall, developer of the Spring Valley Ranch community north of Elizabeth, is set to appear before the Elbert County Planning Commission at 7 p.m. on Dec.1 to present proposed changes to the …
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Jim Marshall, developer of the Spring Valley Ranch community north of Elizabeth, is set to appear before the Elbert County Planning Commission at 7 p.m. on Dec.1 to present proposed changes to the Development Guide Agreement (DGA) regarding changes to current road plans.
The Elbert County Safety and Taxpayer Accountability citizen group claims that Marshall is trying to deprive taxpayers of roads he promised to build, and the group has organized community meetings and launched a social media campaign to encourage residents to attend the meeting and speak out against the proposed changes.
“A recent proposal by developer Jim Marshall to the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners outlines a plan that would potentially save the developer about $10 million dollars and leave taxpayers without promised roads or with unsafe alternative roads,” said the group in a press release Nov. 9.
At the center of the controversy is the second amendment to the Spring Valley Ranch Development Guide Agreement DGA (2), which was approved in 2006, and included the creation of five miles of County Road 182, and a two-mile extension to County Road 13, totaling approximately seven miles of new roads. According to Marshall, those were proposed in anticipation of a second community known as Spring Valley Vista. That development was abandoned over various issues, including the market crash in 2008. The new proposal, DGA (3), proposes developing CR 178 up to Delbert Road, and improving sections of County Roads 13 and 174, which were approved in previous versions of the DGA, totaling about seven miles of new roads.
Led by residents John Smith and Chris Hatton, the citizen group held a meeting Nov. 15, with nearly 100 people in attendance, both in person and via Zoom.
“First and foremost, we are here because of safety,” said Hatton. “Elbert County is proposing road plans that do not support large development. We want the county to hold the developers accountable for the promises they made.”
The new plan, if approved, would develop CR 178, running west from CR13 to connect with Delbert Road, running just north of the Meadow Station subdivision. That plan, according to Hatton, would cause dangerous conditions and increased traffic.
“Their road models are dangerous,” said Hatton. “They have 17,000 trips in and out of Spring Valley every day. They’ve said that the buildout’s not going to happen immediately, for now they’re going to take the transportation plan and use of the third of the numbers. Elbert County requires you to look at the full buildout.”
Smith, who is the president of the Meadow Station Subdivision homeowners association, said he believes the proposed changes would “offer an equally dangerous alternative road that will lead to miles of commuter backups on Delbert Road during morning and evening peak traffic hours.”
Smith, through the MSSHOA, brought suit against Marshall after the BOCC approved construction of CR 178 in February 2018. In June 2020, Judge Gary Kramer of the 18th Judicial District Court ruled in favor of MSSHOA because the developer had not properly noticed surrounding property owners.
“Basically, the developer hasn’t done the road improvements he promised, and he has stated that they don’t want to meet these obligations,” said Hatton. “They are minimizing the road standards and they’re playing games with the numbers from several traffic studies.”
Elbert County resident and previous chairman of the planning commission Dan Rosales said he served on the commission when some of the previous agreements were made, and he believes amending the original agreement is fair and necessary.
“Once Spring Valley Vista disappeared after the 2008 downfall, those roads are no longer needed,” said Rosales. “This proposed road is going to be built to state and county regulations, and will actually make Delbert Road safer, as it will pull about 30% of traffic between Singing Hills and East Parker Road on Delbert.”
Marshall said all construction drawings for the proposed CR 178 were prepared by a professional engineering firm with over 20 years of road design experience, have been reviewed and approved by a third-party engineering firm, and along with the traffic study are matters of public record available for public viewing.
“We are living up to our obligations,” said Marshall. “The roads have been professionally designed by a civil engineer, reviewed and approved by Elbert County’s third-party engineer, and as a result of the recommended traffic control measures, no significant traffic backups at the Delbert Road/CR 178 intersection are projected during peak periods under any condition. It’s not just about Spring Valley, it’s about Spring Valley and everyone in the surrounding communities as well.”
The Dec. 1 planning commission meeting will be held at the fairgrounds at 7 p.m., and is open for public comment. The planning commission will make a recommendation at the BOCC meeting scheduled Dec. 9 at 1 p.m., where public comment is also allowed.
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