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Posted on: October 13, 2021

Mars Hill Corridor Named DCA PlanFirst Success Story

oconee connector trees

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently named Oconee County’s Mars Hill Corridor Beautification Project a 2021 PlanFirst “Success Story.” “Success Stories” recognize county or city projects that exemplify outstanding implementation of a community’s comprehensive plan. The Mars Hill Corridor Beautification Project was one of only 20 projects that were recognized across the state this year.

The Mars Hill Beautification Project was planned to coincide with the Mars Hill Road Widening Project to allow travelers to enjoy a beautiful tree-lined corridor while benefitting from expanded road capacity. A committee of interested citizens with a variety of backgrounds began the planning process in March 2018 and was responsible for choosing and siting the trees. Among the committee members were tree expert, author, and University of Georgia Professor Emeritus Dr. Michael Dirr, Landscape Architect Ken Beall, Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission Executive Director Cindy Pritchard, and Oconee County Chairman John Daniell. Additional committee members also made valuable contributions throughout the process. 

Implementation was planned to begin following completion of road construction. In early 2019, a total of 761 trees were planted in the median and right-of-way along 3.5 miles of the Mars Hill Corridor. Fifty different tree species and cultivars were selected for planting, including elms, cedars, dogwoods, redbuds, oaks, and maples. The trees were chosen with an emphasis on native species that grow well in local soil.

“This project was planned with the long-term results in mind,” said Ms. Pritchard. “It is exciting to have some tree species in this project with unique connections to our community and to have trees and plants that provide color, interest, and beauty year round.”

“As a Plan First Community, Oconee County has consistently and successfully implemented projects listed in the citizen-driven and Board of Commissioners-adopted Comprehensive Plan,” said Planning & Code Enforcement Director Guy Herring. “This is just another collaborative project planned and executed for the use and enjoyment of our community.”

“The Mars Hill Corridor Beautification Project will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come,” said Chairman Daniell. “We planted these trees with a well-thought out plan for their placement and care and are grateful for the expertise and dedication of all of our committee members in bringing the vision of a tree-filled parkway to life.”