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County closing in on rights of way needed to expand sewer
One property owner near Lula holding out
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To extend its sewer lines up Ga. 365, Hall County is considering condemning land owned by Wayne Wilson Pottery in Lula.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners gave county staff the go-ahead to attempt to negotiate a deal with Wilson to buy out his land needed for a sewer right of way.

But if a deal can’t be reached, Hall County attorney William Blalock will move to condemn the property just south of Lula Road on Ga. 365/Cornelia Highway.

“As you know, we are proceeding up 365 with sewer improvements, and the engineer’s department has been at that for some time,” Blalock told commissioners on Thursday. “They’ve acquired right of ways, several right of ways — easements as well as fee simple.

“However, there is one right of way easement they need. They have not been able to negotiate and they have not been able to get a response back to the offer made.”

Blalock said that if attempts to reach Wilson remain unsuccessful or if a deal can’t be reached, he’ll “file a condemnation, if necessary.”

The right of way required by the county sits across a narrow band representing 10,000 square feet of Wilson’s property, which stretches along Ga. 365.

Blalock said the property would still be usable by Wilson, but he couldn’t build over the lines. His is the only property for which the county has not secured right of way, “As far as I know,” Blalock said. “That’s the only one they’ve sent me.”

Wilson did not return a request for comment on Friday.

The resolution allowing Blalock to proceed was introduced by Commissioner Scott Gibbs, seconded by Commissioner Billy Powell and unanimously approved.

Hall County, with the general backing of the business community, has been persistent in its pursuit of a bigger footprint in local sewer service.

Real estate and government officials have for years been excited about the possibility of growth in North Hall that sewer lines would bring along the Ga. 365 corridor.

Former Commission Chairman Gary Gibbs said it was the key to Hall County’s future. Brent Hoffman, a commercial Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway, said sewer expansion would be a “game changer” for the county.

Tim Evans, director of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, has said it would bring not just growth, but high-dollar investments into the county.

“What sewer encourages is that the development that happens will be a better quality,” Evans said. “You don’t put a $100 million capital investment on septic.”

The $2.4 million project funded by special local option sales tax revenue will extend sewer lines from near White Sulphur Road to Ga. 52 near Lula.

The city of Lula has opposed the county’s sewer expansion near the small city on the edge of the county’s northeast border, saying it goes against the county’s agreements with the municipality and represents and duplication of services — points contested by the county.

Overall, almost $12 million for sewer and water upgrades in the county has been approved by voters through the special local option sales tax, according to Public Works Director Ken Rearden.

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