An over 500-acre industrial park off of Ga. 365 was unanimously approved by the Hall County Planning Commission Monday, and developers hope that project can help spur growth in the Ga. 365 corridor.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will cast a final vote on Dec. 13.
The property at 3240 Chiplan Drive is across the highway from the Gateway Industrial Centre, which houses Kubota Manufacturing of America. In August 2019, construction will begin on an inland port at the centre. That port would be able to handle up to 150,000 containers and could reduce transport costs for companies in the region.
Brian Rochester of Rochester and Associates, the firm handling the industrial park project, said the development could build off the success of the Gateway Industrial Centre and take advantage of the nearby inland port.
“Job growth in the manufacturing sector is just great for the future of Hall County, and we think this piece and its proximity to the new inland port, with (Ga.) 365 and directly across the site, will be a great location for this,” Rochester said. “..365 is designated on the future land use map as an employment corridor.”
Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said the development will make use of the county’s investment in sewer lines along Ga. 365 and will help attract new businesses to the county, which is seeing a shortage of available industrial park space.
“We are nearly out of large sites throughout Hall County. … We’re in need of additional space for future growth,” Evans said.
The property, which could have up to 2.6 million square feet of space, would be mostly for industrial uses but could also have commercial uses and office space.
Plans for the site have been adapted. In 2014, Gateway Village was approved for 186 single-family homes, 310 apartments and townhomes and about 600,000 square feet of commercial and office space.
If the Board of Commissioners approves the item on Dec. 13, the land would be rezoned from agricultural residential, planned residential development and planned commercial development to planned industrial development.
But some neighbors spoke in opposition to the development Monday evening. David Edwards’ property is adjacent to the site, and he said he was worried about how the development could affect both his quality of life and his ability to resell his home.
“It’s going to prevent me from really enjoying my home anymore,” he said. “I won’t be able to sell it with a factory right across the line there.”
Kathy Wiley said she and her late husband had hoped to pass their home on to their children and grandchildren, and the development contrasts with the character of the area.
“All the big trucks, the lights, everything. … I love my home place, and it’s paid off, and I don’t want anything to come on it,” Wiley said.
Vickie Kanady, Wiley’s niece, said she hoped officials were responsive to residents’ concerns about losing their homes and quality of life.
“What I want the people of Hall County to know is elected officials need to listen to the retired individuals who have worked hard for their land,” she said. “We don’t have a problem with progress or industries coming in, but there needs to be buffers.”
The commission approved the request under the condition that Rochester meet with residents to discuss their concerns. After the vote, Rochester and the neighbors met in the hallway outside the meeting.