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Hall County extends Glades agreement

POSTED: April 24, 2014 11:32 p.m.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday night to extend a lease management agreement for the proposed Glades Reservoir into July 2015, buying time for the county to acquire the federal permit needed to proceed with the project. 

The agreement binds Hall County, the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority, and Glade Farm LLC by the negotiating parameters established in a 2010 “letter of intent.” 

The Development Authority approved extending the lease agreement earlier this week. 

Hall County has spent more than $8 million acquiring land for the reservoir from Glade Farm, primarily paying with special purpose local option sales tax revenue. 

Glade Farm, meanwhile, continues to make money off the reservoir land, operating a timbering business, according to county officials. 

But the financial windfall for Glade Farm doesn’t end there. 

The lease agreement shifts the responsibility for permitting and construction of the reservoir to the county, and commits the county to paying $4.5 million to Glade Farm within 120 days of receiving the necessary permit.

But that price tag rubs some county officials the wrong way. 

“I can’t figure out why that commission made that decision,” said Commissioner Craig Lutz. “Why do the people that we purchased the land from deserve a $4.5 million payment when the county obtains the permit?” 

Billy Powell is the only current commissioner who was serving in 2010 when the agreement was first signed. 

Commissioner Scott Gibbs said he hopes future negotiations can address some of the financial details that appear worrisome. 

“There are a couple things I don’t particularly like, but there’s no changing it at this point,” Gibbs said. 

Other details that remain to be negotiated include the cost of additional land needed to build the reservoir, location of easements and pipelines, and issues regarding recreational use access. 

The proposed 850-acre Glades Reservoir in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin is projected to add about 40 million gallons per day to the water supply of Northeast Georgia at an estimated $130 million cost to Hall County. 

A final environmental impact statement is scheduled for completion sometime later this year, with a decision on whether the project will proceed likely to come in March 2015. Design and construction of the reservoir is expected to take five years. 

“The county fully intends to honor the provisions of the agreement as it stands,” Hall County Adminstrator Randy Knighton said.


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