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Latest on proposed 300-acre business park proposed in Hall
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An industrial business park has been approved for an empty tract of land in Lula along Athens Street and Cornelia Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers

Plans for an industrial business park on more than 300 acres on the west side of Athens Street at Cornelia Highway were approved by the Hall County Commission Wednesday.

The property was rezoned from agricultural residential and planned commercial development to planned industrial development. 

Frank Norton, of the Norton Agency, said the project’s master plan entails 300 acres divided into “modest-sized parcels of 10-30 acres,” which he said could be combined in “any type of combination to be flexible with the tenant mix” of potential users.

“We felt it was an appropriate time to begin understanding the development logistics of the various uses of our master plan – which could include some retail – and begin looking at some cost for the overall development and put it out there in the marketplace as other things are heating up along (Highways) 365 and 985,” said Norton, who added it’s still too early to estimate a cost of constructing the park.

Depending on the industries that elect to set up there, the park could generate up to 1000 jobs, according to Norton.

“It’s going to be a significant industrial park along 365 and 985,” he said. 

Prior to the vote, commissioners heard concerns over potential issues of traffic and transportation from Lula city officials as the development is expected to be constructed just outside the city’s municipal boundaries.

“Of our concerns that we’ve expressed, the biggest is transportation and the request for all the variances that they had, and we got to state that last night,” Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said. “...(the county’s) transportation study didn’t factor in the inland port and 365 transportation factors. It didn’t address the 480 homes we approved on Athens Street, so as good as their study was, it’s dated in lacking all the data.”

With higher volumes of traffic likely to come from the project, he said there were also questions of funding surrounding road improvements in the area.

“They had suggested any number of improvements, even closing streets in the city,” Bergin said. “At the end of the day, who’s going to pay for those improvements? And the county can’t close city streets…that was one of the things we came to terms with last night was, agreeably, by the county, that they wouldn’t be closing the streets and the concern about improvements.”

Consensus was reached by city and county officials, who went on to approve the industrial business park after addressing matters of funding and removing potential street closures as a condition.

Norton said he agreed to a number of conditions, including bearing costs of road improvements.

“We have agreed to those conditions,” he said. “We have to do some internal road improvements, but we have agreed not to close the road that comes through the property as originally planned.”

Commission Chairman Richard Higgins, citing “economic development,” told The Times that he believes the industrial park project is a sign of progress in the county.

“As far as economic development, I think it’ll be good for Hall County,” Higgins said. “ see a lot of companies coming (here) strictly because it’s a good place to do business – plus, the fact that the inland port is going to make a big difference as far as taking things out of the country.”