The Lamar County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 Monday to decline to join a development authority. Last Tuesday, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners became the first to flatly say no, voting 7-0 not to join the authority. Carroll’s vote came after 13 area residents spoke passionately against the project.
The Joint Development Authority was the first step in developing the proposed Western Commercial Connector – a $2 billion, privately funded toll road spanning 113 miles – that would run through Carroll County while stretching from I-75 in Bartow County all the way to Spalding County on the south end and connecting with I-75 in Lamar County. The idea originated with the Paulding County Development Authority and to date Paulding County is the only government to approve the resolution.
Spalding County had delayed action and the city of Villa Rica didn’t even entertain a presentation by Paulding County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Austin and Paulding County Industrial Building Authority Executive Director Blake Swafford.
In Lamar, the feeling was much the same as it was here in Carroll County. Commission Chairman Jay Matthews said it would have destroyed some of the area’s most fertile farmland.
“They basically wanted to use the top end of our county as a cut-through and we as commissioners talked about and quite frankly we didn’t see any economic benefit from it,” Matthews said.
“I’m sympathetic to the traffic plight, I really am. But I don’t think we felt it was a good idea to do it on the backs of Lamar County residents. That is a project that would have destroyed the rural nature and way of life in that area and upset the tranquility that we all enjoy here.”
Here the feeling was the same. Carroll County Commissioner Kevin Jackson said that the people who spoke before the vote said it better than he ever could.
“We all understand the traffic issues that the city of Atlanta faces,” Jackson said. “But we have all worked too hard to preserve the rural nature of our county and to protect the quality of life here. It was a little more of a sacrifice than anyone wants to take on.”
Attempts to reach Allen and Swafford about the setback were unsuccessful Tuesday.