Friday, October 20, 2023

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Changing Development Guidelines For Gateway Business Park

***Grants Tentative Approval Of New Plans***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Tuesday agreed to revise the Development Guidelines it created in 2000 to accommodate the two most recent firms that plan to locate to the Gateway Technology and Business Park on the edge of Bogart.

After nearly 50 minutes in executive session, the Authority, in its capacity as an Architectural Review Committee, also gave tentative approval to concept plans submitted by one of those companies, Technology Park Atlanta.

Those plans are for a series of small offices with a warehouse facility attached to each of those offices.

The approval granted by the Authority is subject to a review by the Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement Department.

Two Properties

County Attorney Daniel Haygood told the Authority at the meeting on Tuesday that it needs to consider making changes to the Development Guidelines it had created in 2000 for Gateway Technology and Business Park, which consists of properties west of McNutt Creek Road along SR 316.

Haygood, County Clerk Clerk Holly Stephenson, Bernardi

The changes, Haygood said, are the result of the decision by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) in August to sell the 52.8 acre western-most parcel in the park to IMI Industrial Services Group.

IMI plans to relocate to the new site from the Watkinsville Industrial Park.

In addition, Technology Park Atlanta (TPA) is in the process of purchasing two parcels in the Park totaling 36.4 acres from Rodwood Investments LLC.

In 2020, the Authority sold the two parcels in the eastern tract of the Gateway Technology and Business Park to Rodwood Investments, a subsidiary of Taylors Iron Company.

Taylors Iron, which produces miscellaneous metal products at four plants in Georgia, including one in the Watkinsville Industrial Park.

Taylors Iron had said back in 2020 that it did not intend to leave the Watkinsville Industrial Park but add new facilities at Gateway.

Taylors Iron did not follow through on those plans, and the two parcels that will be purchased by TPA are undeveloped.

Development Guidelines

Haygood said at the Tuesday meeting that “the development guidelines were written at a time when we thought everything in Gateway was going to be technology, and obviously we’ve got two developments that we’re talking about now, two projects that aren’t high tech.”

“The siding for the types of buildings that IMI is talking about building, and I guess also TPA, differ a little bit from what the guidelines approve,” Haygood said. “So based on our review of the plans we probably are going to need an amendment to the development guidelines.”

Because the properties to be purchased by TPA fall within the city limits of Bogart, and Bogart has incorporated the Gateway Guidelines into its zoning laws, “they are going to need to make an amendment to their zoning conditions too once we’ve done that,” Haygood said.

Haygood recommended that the Industrial Development Authority make changes to the Guidelines “and then ask them to do that.”

The Guidelines set forth Architectural Standards and specify that “Brick will be required on all sides of the building where structurally possible and a minimum of 75 percent of the exterior facade shall be brick.”

Courtney Bernardi, Oconee Chamber of Commerce President and a member of the Industrial Development Authority, said that standard “for a manufacturing facility, doesn’t make any sense.”

“The cost is extravagant for what they are doing inside those buildings,” she said.

She said TPA “would like to do a tilt up concrete building” on the property it intends to purchase “and they, at this point, could not do that as it is written.”

Authority Reaction

“So it is looking at what would still be visibly appealing, keeping the integrity of the park, but also understand what the nature of that park is,” Bernardi said. “It is not four-sided, Tier A, office buildings.”

“So we need to take a look at those and really talk through what could work out there and again what is already out there,” she said.

“IMI was aware of the standards when they purchased the property, were they not?” Watkinsville Mayor Brian Brodrick, a member of the IDA, asked.

“They were. They were.” Bernardi responded.

“We get one shot at (SR) 316 and how it looks and how the associated buildings look,” he said. “If we lower our standards significantly then we can expect everything else that follows” to ask for the same.

Bernardi said that IMI wants to have four-sided brick on its corporate office building, which will front on Aiken Road.

Authority Option

“So basically, the front building would maintain pretty much the guidelines that we have set before,” Authority Chair Brock Toole said. “It’s the back buildings that aren’t visible where the amendment would need to be made.”

Haygood said he was only seeking authorization to offer amendments to the Guidelines “that would be consistent with what we’ve had out there but also be consistent with what they’re trying to do.”

“If you said, no, we’re just not going to do that, that is pretty much the end of this,” he said. “We don’t need to do anything else because both contracts are probably going to get terminated and that will be it.”

“If we’re talking about just having a consensus to have discussions, I’m ok with that,” Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell, a member of the Authority said.

The Authority did not take a formal vote, but the consensus was to have Haygood and Bernardi come back with proposed changes to the Guidelines.

Technology Park Atlanta

After meeting for 15 minutes in open session, the Authority went into executive session, which lasted 50 minutes.

Rendition: Front Of TPA Buildings

After returning to open session, the Authority voted to approve plans submitted by TPA for review.

The Development Guidelines and Covenants for Gateway specify that the IDA as a whole constitutes the Architectural Review Committee for the Park. The Authority was acting in that capacity in its review in executive session and vote in open session to approve the plans.

Haygood said IPA also had raised two “real estate issues” that the Authority was not addressing at this time.

The approval was of the plans was “subject to review by Guy Herring and coming back to you if there are things in it that he thinks look like they need to be handled differently,” Haygood said. Herring is Director of Planning and Code Enforcement for Oconee County.

Bernardi said after the meeting that TPA will be purchasing the property from Taylors Iron and developing it as spelled out in those plans.

“Essentially it is a number of small offices with warehouse facilities with each office,” Haygood said. “It won’t look a lot different than the Alexion facilities look.”

Alexion is located in Gateway at the corner of McNutt Creek Road and Aiken Road.

Architectural Plans

The submitted plans show four buildings running in parallel, each subdivided with a small “Office Area” in the front and a much larger open space behind that office space.

Rendition: Rear Of TPA Buildings

The rear of the building includes a loading dock for each of the warehouses.

The exterior finish schedule lists “Painted Concrete.”

Haygood said after the meeting that “what they want is office and warehouses for incubators coming out of the University of Georgia.”

The Industrial Development Authority has never owned a 29.4 acre parcel that lies between the properties to be owned by IMI and TPA

Anderson-Wells II LLC is storing trailers used for emergency housing on that property.

In September, the Board of Commissioners and the city of Bogart changed the zoning on that property to bring zoning in line with what had been nonconforming use.


I recorded the video below of the meeting of the Industrial Development Authority on Oct. 17.

The meeting took place in the Barnett Shoals meeting room at the Oconee County Administrative Building just north of Watkinsville.

Discussion of the Development Guidelines for Gateway begins at 0:26 in the video.

Discussion of the plans by Technology Park Atlanta begins in the video at 15:33, immediately following the executive session.

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