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Surprise: Fayette spends $1.4 million for East Bypass

The men who were elected mainly on the basis of their opposition to the West Fayetteville Bypass have now become supporters of the East Fayetteville Bypass.

The Fayette County Commission voted Thursday night to spend $1.42 million to acquire a large tract of land deemed necessary for construction of the East Bypass.

The move is surprising, as the commission has not formally voted to proceed with any portion of the East Bypass. The county has roughly $28 million left from the 2003 transportation sales tax approved by voters, and depending on the final layout of the project the East Bypass may completely exhaust those funds.

The parcel, currently owned by Nancy M. Campbell and Jean Desrosiers, is located at 340 Hewell Road in east Fayette County and is the home of The Links golf course. Commission Chairman Steve Brown said the land was about to be sold for potential subdivision development, and if that had occurred, it would have prevented the bypass from ever being built.

The tract is listed in county tax records as being valued at $1.65 million.

The bypass would extend from Ga. Highway 85 north to Ga. Highway 54, then to Truett Cathy Parkway/McDonough Road before ending at County Line Road and South Jeff Davis Drive on the border of Clayton County. While this road would primarily serve Clayton residents, the benefit to Fayetteville of moving traffic away from downtown is significant, Brown said.

Brown noted that he has long been a proponent of the East Bypass as a way to divert traffic around Fayetteville’s downtown area.

“The main purpose is to divert the people from south of us, Spalding people and below us, from getting on Highway 85,” Brown said. “It will also divert the Clayton County, Panhandle and Henry County traffic coming this way to go north. ... It’s how do you keep from absolutely bogging Georgia 85 down? That’s been the purpose of that road all along.”

The decision came down to knowing there was a time crunch on the future of the golf course, as the owner was ready to sell, Brown noted.

“We knew a developer was going to buy that piece of property, and if he builds it with 200 houses on it, it’s all over with. You’ll never build that road. It’ll be too controversial,” Brown said.

In the meantime, the county is looking at various construction options for the East Bypass, but having the golf course land gives the county some time, as the other pieces of the bypass will be much easier to put into place, such as the widening of Corinth Road, Brown said.

“We’re looking at possibilities,” Brown said. “Obviously you’ve got to have funding for it. I’m not telling you we’ll have the road built in three years, but we are moving forward with the project, that’s safe to say.”

The vote to purchase the golf course came after the commission went into executive (closed) session and returned back into open session, as allowed and required by Georgia law.

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