The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority received a cautious response last night when it delivered its report on industrial development to the county’s Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Jim Luke said the report “was a great work in progress” but that he was concerned that the Authority was putting too much emphasis on creating industrial parks.
Commissioner John Daniell, who, with Luke, has called for the study of prezoning as a means to encourage industrial development in the county, also said he was content with the report of the Development Authority so far.
Daniell said industrial parks are only one tool to use to encourage industrial development in the county and said he wants the Development Authority to continue its study.
Neither Commissioner Margaret Hale nor Commissioner Mark Saxon responded to the report, which was delivered by IDA Chair Rick Waller.
BOC Chairman Melvin Davis, himself a member of the IDA, told Waller he was thankful for the time the IDA had spent on the project and knew that additional time spent “will be well worthwhile.”
Waller was delivering what was labeled an interim report of a Product Development Subcommittee of the Development Authority. Members John Morrison, Matt Elder and Ed Perkins were in attendance.
The report recommends that the county “identify and establish one or more industrial parks” of between 25 and 75 acres each.
The parks should have adequate utilities and transportation access, the report said, and should be rezoned for the industrial use.
The county should investigate ownership and financing “to determine the best combination of public, private and/or public private involvement,” according to the report.
Though the Development Authority was instructed to address zoning, it reported that “While streamlining the rezoning process would be a good thing and would likely benefit commercial development, it would not significantly impact industrial development.”
Luke Focused On Zoning
Luke stressed that he wants the Authority to review the rezoning process now in place “and let’s see what it takes to streamline that process and make that a little more customer friendly. There’s just been too many occasions where these things have stretched out a long time.”
The Development Authority should invite each of the commissioners to meet with it and ask the commissioners to voice their concerns, Luke said.
He also said that the Authority should indicate if it needs help identifying resources or money to carry out its task.
He said he thinks the county can find funds to cover expenses of experts or otherwise help with the work of the IDA.
Waller indicated the Development authority wants to interview regional and statewide “experts” before completing its report.
Condemnation For Mars Hill
In other action last night, the BOC voted to proceed with condemnation of 11 parcels for the widening of Mars Hill Road after County Attorney Daniel Haygood reported that negotiations had not been successful.
Haygood said an additional four parcels may require similar action of the Board in the future.
The BOC had voted to proceed with condemnation of five parcels in July.
The Georgia Department of Transportation pushed bidding on the Mars Hill Road project back until early next year because of delays in the purchase of rights of way for the project, though no mention of that delay was made at the meeting last night.