Properties for industrial park up for debate

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:07 AM

County Commission will hold a workshop at 7 p.m. today to discuss four pieces of property under consideration for the county’s next industrial park.

When they last met in December, commissioners were considering a recommendation from the Economic Development Council and from the budget committee to pay former commissioner Kenneth Whaley $7.5 million for a 115-acre property on Snyder Road, north of Interstate 40. They reviewed information on a second piece of property behind New Hope Church on Highway 66, but some commissioners mentioned two additional tracts they believed deserved more consideration.

The commission eventually voted to delay making a decision so that staff and commissioners could gather more information on all four properties. They will discuss those findings at tonight’s meeting at the County Courthouse.

All four remain under consideration, and EDC Director Allen Newton said his staff was putting the finishing touches on information to present on each.

“We’re going to present all four of them and then County Commission can certainly debate them and ask us about them,” he said.

Whaley’s offer was about $2 million less than the appraised value of the property, and included grading and the addition of an access road at no additional cost.

“The issue with the Whaley property is, you’ve got to have road improvements and have acquisition of additional property,” Newton said.

The property behind New Hope is about 230 acres. “It’s beautiful property,” Newton said. However, at the December meeting officials said its owners are seeking $8.25 million — $2.5 million greater than the appraised value.

It also will require a new access road, and some neighboring property owners — including County Commissioner Kent Woods — have indicated they aren’t interested in giving up parts of their property for that purpose.

They are also considering a 56-acre property on Mountain Road. Newton noted they were looking for at least 100 acres of property for the park, but said the owners have indicated they are trying to acquire more of the surrounding land.

The last piece of property, located on Hardin Roads, is 133 acres but is on some rugged terrain and would need sewer and water as well as an access road, Newton added.

Commission can’t vote on the matter tonight because they’re only holding a workshop, meant to give the group a chance to focus on the issues and discuss the properties at length.

The matter could come up for a vote at the next regular meeting, which is set for Feb. 18.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com