ELLIJAY, Ga. – Joining in support with Dawson County and the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Commissioners voted in approval of supporting a “Scenic Byway” designation for a portion of Hwy 136 and Hwy 182.
The resolution indicates a route “that begins in the City of Dawsonville out Hwy 183 and Hwy 136, past Amicalola Falls State Park and over Burnt Mountain.” The Dawson County Chamber is asking for the Georgia Scenic Byway designation from the Georgia Department of Transportation for this route.
The Gilmer Board of Commissioners discussed benefits for supporting the agenda item and were questioned by citizens on the usefulness of it. In fact, according to Chairman Paris, a number of surrounding counties have already done this and support the scenic byway.
One citizen who spoke during the work session asked about the development footprint and ulterior motives of supporting the scenic byway and the level of state and federal involvement into the county.
Paris said that Gilmer was approached by other counties to join the designation. He stated, “We have no reason on this at all other than just offering cooperation to other counties. We’re not looking for it to impact our growth or tourism or anything else really. No ulterior motives at all.”
Parker also noted that not all of Hwy 136 is covered, rather only the part crossing Burnt Mountain. Hwy 136 continues on crossing Hwy 515 and turning north to cross into Gilmer County in the southwest corner.
The county has been approached numerous times over the years for what they have called “letters of support” for different things from the roundabout at Hwy 382 to trails in the county. Sometimes they require promises of future action and some do not. The board even mentioned this in the regular session as Paris said he was okay with the resolution as long as it didn’t commit the county to spending money.
However, while this is set for Hwy 136 and Hwy 182 in sections not within Gilmer, Paris did note during the Work Session that the he could be discussing with the other members of the BOC to initiate a similar designation for Boardtown Road. Most recently, Boardtown Road and its residents gathered to oppose plans of putting major power lines and poles along the road in a Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC) project to upgrade power and stability in the area. This was one of those items in which the BOC offered a letter of support to aid in the actions of the community.
No member of the BOC mentioned anything further about Boardtown Road, but if the county does pursue the designation, certain protections could be imposed. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation under their benefits of the designation of a Scenic Byway, “If a community decides to emphasize the protection of scenic and natural areas, land use ordinances could be created to preserve the rural character of a byway and limit development intrusion. Scenic Byway designation is a unique tool, in that it can be used to achieve a wide variety of your community’s goals.”