LEESBURG, Ga. — Lee County Commissioners voted this past week to allocate $250,000 to building the Westover Road extension stretching eight-tenths of a mile between Ledo Road and Fussell Road.
The funds will be taken from the annual allocation Lee County receives each year from the Georgia Department of Transportation for local maintenance projects.
Lee administrator Tony Massey says the project likely will cost about $500,000. The work will be financed with about 50 percent in state funds and 50 percent local funds.
Massey said the local share will come, in part, from SPLOST 6 money.
“This is the first phase of a long-range road project,” Massey said. “The county plans to eventually take Westover from Fussell and then take Forrester Parkway and extend it to the west.
“In the future, Westover and Forrester Parkway will connect, opening a considerable amount of land for commercial and residential development.”
Winston Oxford, chief executive officer of the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, believes the overall project will have a favorable long-lasting impact on the county.
“This will be very significant years down the road,” Oxford said. “This is an important project from a commercial investment standpoint.
“It really will connect East Lee with West Lee County, mostly the populations of the two sides.
“When a commercial investor like Publix looks at investing at a specific site, they will consider the drive times of the populations within 5 minutes, with 10 and 15 minutes and in some cases as much as a 50-minute drive.”
When Forrester and Westover are connected, Oxford said, it will shorten the drive time to many existing Lee retailers.
“Let’s say 20,000 people are now within 10 minutes of Publix,” he said. “People in Callaway Lakes or Quail Pines or Oakland may be more than 15 to 20 minutes away.
“This could cut as much as five to ten minutes off that drive, and that makes a tremendous difference.”
It should make the county more attractive to commercial development, Oxford believes.
“I spend all my time trying to recruit commercial development,” he said. “That is our future as far as additional tax base.”
Public Works crews in Lee County will do much of the preparation work to reduce the expense. Bids will be taken for the paving.
Work is expected to begin before the end of the year.
In other business during last week’s meeting, Lee County Commissioners declined to re-apppoint G. Lawson Vann to a term on the Lee County Board of Tax Assessors.
Vann’s reappointment was proposed by Vice-Chairman Rick Muggridge who said he “can not think of a wiser person or one less political” than Vann.
Muggridge’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Betty Johnson but the measure failed.
Then, commissioner Dennis Roland made a motion that Tim Sumners being named to the board of assessors.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bill Williams, who had previously expressed displeasure that the Board of Tax Assessors had mailed some re-evaluation notices to Lee property owners just days before the July primary elections. Williams lost his re-election bid in that balloting and will be replaced by Greg Frich.
Sumners was appointed by a 3-2 vote with Chairman Ed Duffy siding with Roland and Williams.
“The large landowners were the hardest hit by our recent re-evaluation, and I think he (Sumners) will represent us well,” Roland said.