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4 things to know before May 23 Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday to discuss a moratorium on hookah lounges and cost sharing for Lake Lanier Olympic park. - photo by Megan Reed

Hall County could temporarily halt business licenses for hookah lounges so officials can look at the health effects. Also, the growing Ga. 365 could get a new gas station. But South Hall is also growing, and commissioners will be voting to award a contract for a sewer extension in that area.

Also, while the county will no longer be responsible for operations at Gainesville’s Lake Lanier Olympic Park, the county could be contributing financially over the next two years.

Gas station in northeast Hall

A gas station and convenience store could be coming to Ga. 365 and White Sulphur Road, if commissioners approve rezoning of the property on Thursday.

The now-vacant 10-acre property is near the Gateway Industrial Centre, a 518-acre industrial park that will soon be home to the Georgia Ports Authority’s Northeast Georgia Inland Port, expected to open in 2021.

Jim Walters of Walters Income Properties has said in a letter to the county that the land could be used for a “QuikTrip or other type of convenience/motor fuel store.”

The Hall County Planning Commission recommended approval of the development May 6. County planning staff is also recommending approval because a mix of commercial, institutional and industrial uses “is appropriate for this section” of Ga. 365, according to the staff report.

There will be a public hearing before commissioners vote on Thursday.

Temporary moratorium on hookah lounges

The county could stop the issuing of business licenses to hookah lounges for 90 days, if commissioners approve the item on Thursday’s consent agenda. Officials want to use that time to research the effects of using hookahs.

Srikanth Yamala, the county’s planning and development director, said there are currently no hookah lounges registered in unincorporated Hall.

“It is definitely a non-traditional tobacco use, but there are a lot of unknowns,” Yamala said.

Yamala said county staff had been approached by someone hoping to open a hookah lounge. There is no language included in the current business license code about hookah lounges, so the county’s legal counsel recommended taking some time to research the issue.

There will be two public hearings so the county can gather community input before the county’s rules are officially changed, Yamala said.

“This moratorium will help pretty much help staff to dig a little deep into what’s out there,” Yamala said. “… There aren’t any regulations at the state level.”

Commissioner Shelly Echols said vaping, another alternative form of tobacco use, has also raised concerns, so hookah use should be researched.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco. Hookah smoking is usually done in groups, sometimes with the mouthpiece passed among the group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hookah smoking involves some of the same health risks as cigarettes.

Agreement for Lake Lanier Olympic Park maintenance

Although the city of Gainesville has now taken over operations of Lake Lanier Olympic Park, Hall County could offer some financial contributions over the next two years as the change takes effect.

The county would pay the city $200,000 in July 2019 and $200,000 on or before July 2020 “in recognition of the benefits provided” to residents of both the city and county. Those dollars could only be used for park maintenance and operation.

The Georgia General Assembly and Gov. Brian Kemp have approved Gainesville’s annexation of the park, allowing the city to take over operations. The city and county had each been contributing $150,000 annually for park operations.

The Gainesville City Council approved the city’s side of the agreement on May 7. Commissioners will vote on the agreement as part of the consent agenda, a set of items voted on collectively and routinely approved.

South Hall sewer extension

The county hopes to extend sewer lines in the Road Atlanta area, and on Thursday, commissioners will vote to award the approximately $267,000 project to Maysville-based Griffin Brothers Inc.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden said officials hope to have the design for the extension finished in early 2020 and start construction in summer 2020. Construction is expected to last for 18 to 24 months.

The project will be funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Hall County Board of Commissioners

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville