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Lanier Islands Parkway Community Improvement District moves closer to formation
Interim director confident of support from property owners
0106district-mack burgess
Burgess

Leaders of the Lanier Islands Parway Community Improvement District have reached a significant goal in getting the district formed — getting the agreement of property owners making up 75 percent of the district’s total property value.

But there’s another milestone to reach: getting the nod from 50 percent, plus one, of the commercial and industrial property owners in the proposed district.

“You have to have a simple majority of the owners and a super majority of the value,” said Mack Burgess, interim director of the proposed district.

“We need 12 to 16 percent more (to reach the majority). Along Lanier Islands Parkway from Lake Lanier Islands (resort) to I-985, we’ve gotten a lot of support.”

The group is currently seeking support from industrial parks in the area.

“We’ve got a bunch of meetings coming up this month and we feel confident we’ll be able to get the support we need in order to get it through,” Burgess said.

Allowed under the state constitution, a community improvement district is a self-taxing entity created voluntarily by property owners to pay for infrastructure, such as roads and sewer, and services.

Burgess still is shooting for completion of the effort by the end of February, to be eligible for the 2013 tax year.

“If it gets to the point where it’s time for us to turn everything in (to the Hall County tax commissioner) and we don’t have exactly the map that we want, we can manipulate the lines that cut out folks who haven’t been supportive and include folks who have,” Burgess said.

At this point, “we will be able to get a CID through,” he added. “It may not be as big as we initially anticipated, but we have enough support now that we can say, for sure, we’ll have something.”

The CID planners are aiming for a tax rate of 5 mills on only commercial and industrial property owners in the district.

In Hall County, 1 mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property values, with property assessed at 40 percent.

“The goal is to get a CID that generates enough revenue to be eligible for the big grants,” Burgess said.

The millage decision won’t be made until after the CID is created and the board is elected. The board election will take place after the tax commissioner’s office verifies the submitted list of properties and property owners.

The board will be made up of five property owners within the CID and representatives from Hall County and the city of Buford.

In addition to setting the tax rate, that group also “will determine which grants we apply for, and then how we allocate our funds once we have them,” Burgess said.

“We do have some (people) with us who have ... sat on boards of other CIDs and have seen how the most successful ones have allocated their funds and resources, so we’re fortunate in that way,” he added.

Among the Lanier CID’s plans are “major enhancements” to the Exit 8 bridge over I-985, landscaping and adding “significant decorative lighting and street signage along the parkway,” according to its website.

The work is intended to complement a $14 million Georgia Department of Transportation project calling for transforming Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway into a four-lane divided highway, including sidewalks, between McEver Road/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and I-985.

“I think it sets a great tone of what we’re trying to do as far as our corridors,” said Stan Brown, Oakwood city manager and former chairman of the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of directors, of the effort.

“I think it sets a good example, something we would want to emulate,” he added. “Looking at it from a tourism standpoint, it makes a statement right there on I-985 that you’ve entered into a different area.”

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