A commercial and industrial business park proposed for mixed uses on more than 91 acres off Cagle and Lula roads on Ga. 365 was approved by Hall County’s Board of Commissioners Thursday, March 23, though questions of the application process still remain unanswered.
Several residents who live near the site spoke against the proposed development at a regular meeting in February before commissioners tabled the item.
Brett Mattox cited aspects of the project he said could compromise the North Oconee Watershed District, an environmentally regulated and protected area.
Mattox also stated at February’s meeting that Commissioner Gregg Poole failed to disclose campaign contributions made to him from Philip Wilheit, whom he named as a supposed beneficiary of the park.
Poole acknowledged the failure following Mattox’s remarks and pledged to resolve the error.
After Thursday’s meeting, Poole said issues of Wilheit’s contributions to his campaign had been addressed. But when asked what exact steps were taken to ensure proper procedure was followed, Poole expressed indifference and declined to delve into further detail.
“I didn’t even think about it twice,” Poole said.
In February, Mattox claimed that he was told by his attorneys that issues of undisclosed campaign donations had “to be corrected” before the item could return to commissioners for approval.
At Thursday’s meeting, Poole, the sole commissioner to speak at length on the item, said that traffic concerns held by officials from the city of Lula were settled in talks with the municipality. Poole indicated road improvements are planned on Ga. 52 to account for additional traffic that could come from the development.
“... myself and Hall County staff have met with the city of Lula … I have it on record from the city of Lula leadership themselves that they were not against this development,” Poole said. Improvements on two turning lanes and the installation of new traffic lights are planned at the Ga. 52 interchange, he said.
Poole said questions regarding the development’s impact on the North Oconee Watershed District also have been resolved, stating, “There’s only a small strip of (the development) in the North Oconee Watershed.”
Poole then motioned for approval, and the item received unanimous passage by commissioners.
The park will be composed of a 1 million-square-foot building, 75,000- and 30,000-square-foot buildings and includes additional room for either another 110,000-square-foot structure or 126 trailer spaces.
Solidum Holdings LLC, the project’s applicant, plans for each building of the proposed business park to be one story, with a completion date set for some time in 2033. Hall County planning documents state that Solidum intends for the park “to serve a mixture of industrial, commercial, highway business and office-institutional uses.”
Specific use of various portions of the property likely would be determined at a later time, county documents state.
“The property may be developed as ‘pad ready’ sites or sold as undeveloped parcels,” a project narrative for the item states. “… the location and proposed use is consistent with the Hall County comprehensive plan’s designation as a ‘mixed-use corridor’ and appropriate for Hall County’s planned industrial development district.”
Access to the site is planned from Lula Road (Ga. 52), pending GDOT approval, as well as Cagle Road, according to county documents, and direct access from Cornelia Highway (Ga. 365) “will be provided through an existing driveway and easement to the property.”
The site of the future business park, flanked to the east and south by residential zoning, is adjacent to another business park planned to the north.
An impact study to assess potential traffic issues was completed prior to the project’s approval, and an updated site plan for the project identifies a protected left turn signal and an additional right turn lane on Lula Road as improvements made by the developer.