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New state designation could boost Lula planning efforts
Northeast Hall County city named PlanFirst community
1117LULA
Adriane Wood of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs speaks to Lula City Council on Monday.

Lula’s new state designation as a “PlanFirst” community could help the northeast Hall County city save some money as it pushes ahead with planning efforts.

Among the perks, the city will be able to seek Community Development Block Grants to help the city with infrastructure plans and get reduced interest rates on certain Georgia Environmental Finance Authority state loans.

“There’s (numerous) possibilities,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said. “This is making more resources available to us.”

A couple of areas that could draw the city’s focus with the designation are redevelopment of the historic downtown and areas off Ga. 365.

City officials will start in early December putting together “a scope of work we’d like to accomplish in the next three years and what resources are available to us,” Bergin said.

The designation lasts from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, as noted by Adriane Wood of the Department of Community Affairs during a presentation at the Lula City Council meeting Monday night.

Officials believe the city is positioned for future growth, given its proximity to a burgeoning industrial area off Ga. 365, a major traffic artery that runs through Northeast Georgia.

Ga. 365 is “going to be an employment boom for the area,” Bergin said. “By addressing transportation, utilities and infrastructure … so when the growth does mature, we’re in a better place to handle it.”

The city has adopted a new zoning ordinance and drawn up plans addressing water and sewer needs, he said.

Through the designation, “Lula will be recognized across the state of Georgia as a community that possesses a vision of its future and maintains an active strategy for implementing that vision,” said Brian Johnson of the Department of Community Affairs in a Nov. 3 letter to the city.

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