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Lula looks to establish development authority
Jim Grier
Jim Grier

Lula is taking another step to prepare for growth by establishing a development authority that reaches outside downtown.

The Lula City Council will vote Monday on whether to move forward in establishing the authority. If the Council agrees to the idea, it will be introduced in the Georgia General Assembly, which will need to approve the proposal before the authority can get to work.

The development authority would cover Lula’s water and sewer service area, reaching outside city limits. Because the authority’s coverage area would go into unincorporated Hall County, the county will appoint two of the authority’s seven members. Lula’s mayor would be an automatic member.

The city already has the Lula Downtown Development Authority, which Mayor Jim Grier chaired for seven years before getting elected.

“It’s another sign of progress,” Grier said of the new development authority at the March 11 work session.

Development authorities can buy, lease or sell property, as well as issue bonds and apply for grants and loans.

“Our local development authority legislation will serve the interest of the city in our efforts for future development and redevelopment within the community with which we serve,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said in an email. “As you can see from the legislation, the (development authority) will have the opportunity to further the efforts of the city with certain additional tools enabling a (process) not currently available to the city.”

Bergin said he was looking forward to working with the county on the initiative.

“We are certainly grateful to have the guidance and efforts of our partners in creating this path of opportunity,” he said.

Members would serve four-year terms, with the exception of two initial members of the authority appointed by Lula, who will serve for two years.

Councilmembers have been visiting other communities to learn about their development authorities, Bergin said.

Gainesville, for example, has the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority, which was established in 1999. One recent effort of that authority has been taking over the land at Jesse Jewell Parkway and West Academy Street, the current site of Engine 209 Park, to work with a developer for the site. While municipalities have to sell land to the highest bidder, development authorities can be more selective in land sales.

Lula City Council

When: 7 p.m. Monday, March 18

Where: Lula City Hall, 6055 Main St.