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Ellenwood residents divided on development

By Billy Corriher

Bert Black has called Ellenwood home for 37 years but that is about to change.

"It's been a wonderful place to live," Black said. "But I guess progress is going to come."

A massive residential and commercial development is planned near his house. And while he knows the area is growing, he said it's just too much, and he plans to sell.

The Ellenwood Town Center Redevelopment Plan would run on the north side of Anvil Block Road from Interstate 675 to Bouldercrest Road.

The project includes 1 million square feet of retail space, including a home improvement store, grocery stores and discount retailers. The plan also calls for a movie theater and 1,000 homes, including apartments, townhouses and single-family dwellings, said developer David Price.

Though developers have taken steps to minimize congestion, some neighbors worry about the additional traffic that will come with the project. For the development to proceed, Anvil Block Road must be widened and the area's sewer must be upgraded.

The improvements would be funded through a special Tax Allocation District in the area, which the county commission is scheduled to vote on at its Tuesday meeting. Construction of the project is expected to begin next spring and be completed in about four years.

Ellenwood resident Michael Tucker, who has lived on Anvil Block Road since 1997, said he thinks the project will revitalize the area. And although he will have to relocate to make way for the project, Tucker thinks it will benefit the community.

"I can remember driving through here when it was nothing but farmland," he said. "You've got to leave room for development and change."

Tucker said he likes that the planned community includes a mix of residential and commercial development.

The entire project will be connected with paths for bicycles and golf carts, which will allow residents to shop or go to the movies without getting on the main roads, Price said.

"The connectivity of the community is what makes it work," he said.

But the development will result in more traffic on Anvil Block Road, which will be widened to seven lanes to Bouldercrest Road and four lanes beyond Bouldercrest to the Henry County line.

Tucker said he's glad the road will be widened because it is already congested during rush hour.

"I just hope the construction of it all doesn't affect the people who are staying here," Tucker said.

Black, who said the new development will extend right up to his neighbor's property, does not want to deal with the added congestion. Black said the amount of traffic on the road now is already a hassle.

"There's more traffic on this road in 15 minutes than there used to be in 24 hours," Black said. "It'll be like I can't get out of my driveway once it comes in."