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6-19-06 Progress on Oconee and Athens-Clarke “Orkin Tract” long overdue

…….   It is doubtful that we have the Oconee Sewer Capacity to deal with any significant project at Orkin and GA 316.  SEE remarks of Utility Director in A B-H on January 24, 2001, shortly after I left office….

 

Much of my frustration with my successor is his preoccupation with “Ego Projects” like the Big Park and a Big Jail rather than ‘bread and butter” efforts for infrastructure including the improvement of the Mars Hill Road Corridor.  Such policies are wasting resources and incurring much debt for future taxpayers of Oconee County.

 

Oconee County leadership needs to get back to the BASICS!

 

Athens Banner-Herald 1-24-2001  “….The LAS system will serve Oconee County's new high school and elementary school, both of which will be located next to the LAS site. The plant will also allow the county to extend sewer lines for potential commercial growth along Georgia Highway 316…….

 

“…..The sewer extensions along Ga. 316 will cut through prime commercial sites like the Orkin tract -- located where U.S. Highway 78 meets Ga. 316 -- and the planned Gateway Business Park, to be located along both sides of Ga. 316 inside a triangle formed by Aiken, McNutt Creek and Pete Dickens roads.


   “The Gateway Business Park is owned by the county commission-appointed Oconee County Development Authority, which hopes to lure high-tech businesses along the corridor……….

 

“…..Dodd said, ''It should put the Gateway Park where it needs to be, and should really get 316 going as well.''……”

AVOC

 

June 15, 2006

 

Progress on Oconee and Athens-Clarke “Orkin Tract” long overdue

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

The “Orkin Agreement” between Oconee and Athens-Clarke is not progressing because of lack of enthusiasm by Oconee and Clarke Leadership.

 

The Athens Banner-Herald has moved this subject back to the news with an article on June 12, 2006, on a Biopharmaceutical firm looking at the site.  (While interesting, it only brings 18 jobs!).   In a June 14, 2006, the paper urged Oconee and Clarke to move ahead on the Orkin Agreement.

 

I agree with the June 14, 2006, as to getting something done.  However, it has been going on for longer than 7 years.  This site was a finalist for Mercedes in the early 90’s.  I was involved in the local effort to lure that project to Georgia. Governor Miller was involved.

 

We had other interest (Governor’s folks etc) during the 90’s.  Ten years ago, I urged Athens-Clarke County to work with us on a plan we could show prospects in the future rather than talk about what we “intended to do”.  At one point, we offered to put up $0,000 if Clarke would match it and hire consultants to work with us.

 

Doc Eldridge, (Athens Mayor) and I worked on an agreement in 2000.  However, after my retirement announcement, Clarke County stopped talking.  I was told that Commissioner Chasteen and others wanted to wait on the new leadership team in Oconee County.

 

I understood some of that thinking.  On the other hand, we were losing a lot of “institutional memory and history” that needed saving.  I also suspected that some Clarke Folks wanted to deal with a less experienced and more naïve Oconee County Government.

 

In most efforts, Clarke County was the main source for water and sewer for the site.   That position gave them certain clout and control.  My efforts at Bear Creek and the Eastville LAS site were motivated, in part, by a desire to have water and sewer capability to deal with prospects.  When I left office, we had water and sewer capacity coming online that would allow Oconee to provide the services at the site and give Oconee more clout and control of its involvement.

 

Unfortunately, my successor changed policies with “Sweetheart Deals” and sewer service for residential.  Both were serious mistakes.   It is doubtful that we have the Oconee Sewer Capacity to deal with any significant project at Orkin and GA 316.  SEE above remarks of Utility Director in A B-H on January 24, 2001, shortly after I left office….

 

Much of my frustration with my successor is his preoccupation with “Ego Projects” like the Big Park and a Big Jail rather than ‘bread and butter” efforts for infrastructure including the improvement of the Mars Hill Road Corridor.  Such policies are wasting resources and incurring much debt for future taxpayers of Oconee County.

 

Oconee County leadership needs to get back to the BASICS!

 

SEE:

5-5-04 Oconee County Opened Pandora’s Box With Residential Sewer Policy Change

4-09-04 Oconee County MPD Ordinances Were “Hatched and Birthed” in Secrecy

8-14-04 Joint Vision Statement for University Parkway 2-4-2000

2-24-06 Sewer needs and issues in Bogart- Downtown, Benson’s & Politics

7-29-05 What is Real Status of Oconee Sewer Capacity?

4-22-02 Do Freeport & Incentives Really Promote Economic Development?

4-22-05 GA 316, University Parkway, Dreams, Vision and Reality

9-2-05 Is There a Housing Bubble in Oconee County, Georgia & the United States?

9-23-04 Oconee To Make Fast Growth Mistake Worse Than MPDs?

7-17-04 Sewer Service is Expensive and Tough to Deliver

5-4-05 Sewer Capacity, Cost and Effort, and Oconee County Plans

 


SEE:

'Megasite' sits undeveloped -Athens-Clarke, Oconee must reach dealAthens Banner-Herald March 2, 2003, Kimberly Mock; http://onlineathens.com/stories/030203/new_20030302042.shtml

 

Orkin tract: Agreement still undeveloped- Athens Banner-Herald July 12, 2005, Lee Shearer;

http://onlineathens.com/stories/071205/new_20050712040.shtml

 

Sewerage expansion under way in Oconee CountyAthens Banner-Herald January 24, 2001, Kevin Connor; http://onlineathens.com/stories/012401/new_0124010024.shtml

 

“….The LAS system will serve Oconee County's new high school and elementary school, both of which will be located next to the LAS site. The plant will also allow the county to extend sewer lines for potential commercial growth along Georgia Highway 316…….

 

“…..The sewer extensions along Ga. 316 will cut through prime commercial sites like the Orkin tract -- located where U.S. Highway 78 meets Ga. 316 -- and the planned Gateway Business Park, to be located along both sides of Ga. 316 inside a triangle formed by Aiken, McNutt Creek and Pete Dickens roads.


   “The Gateway Business Park is owned by the county commission-appointed Oconee County Development Authority, which hopes to lure high-tech businesses along the corridor……….

 

“…..Dodd said, ''It should put the Gateway Park where it needs to be, and should really get 316 going as well.''……”

 

 


The Athens Banner-Herald

http://onlineathens.com/stories/061406/opinion_20060614029.shtml

 

June 14, 2006               EDITORIAL

 

It's past time for a final deal on Orkin tract

 

Seven years - two of which have included help from a consulting firm. That's how long the governments of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties have been either talking about, or actively working on, a plan for providing infrastructure to a piece of land straddling the two counties.

Which might not be all that big a deal, except that the 920-acre tract along U.S. Highway 78 and Georgia Highway 316 has long been recognized as one of the prime sites for industrial development on the eastern seaboard. Recently, the recognition of that potential has been transformed apparently into active interest on the part of a biopharmaceutical company. The company, which remains unidentified for now, had looked previously at a portion of the 920-acre "Orkin tract," but then turned its attention to a North Carolina location before taking a renewed interest in the Athens-Clarke/Oconee site.

Meanwhile, the governments of the two counties have yet to put an agreement in place regarding how utilities and police and fire protection will be provided to the site, although a draft proposal is under review by the managers of both counties.

The biopharmaceutical company, which could employ 18 people by 2007 if it chooses to locate here, has indicated an agreement between the two counties is not a sticking point for its decision, although company officials apparently have indicated they would like for such an agreement to be in place.

In other words, it's possible that an intergovernmental agreement - or the lack of such an agreement - could influence the company's decision. Of course, there are likely any number of hurdles to be maneuvered before the company makes a final decision on its location, not the least of which is whether it can reach an agreement with the owners of the Orkin tract for the portion of the property it will need. And, of course, it's laudable that the Oconee and Athens-Clarke governments have recognized a unified approach on infrastructure, building codes and taxes is the best way to market the tract.

But the biopharmaceutical company's interest does point to the need for the county governments to develop a certain urgency in coming up with a plan for the site.

Obviously, the 18 jobs the company could bring to the community won't do much to replace the hundreds of jobs that have been lost in the area as textile firms and other manufacturers have closed up shop or moved elsewhere.

But bringing the company successfully to the Orkin tract could pave the way for further development of the site, which would, of course, bring more jobs into the community.

Clearly, it's time for a plan to be put in place for the tract.


6-14-06 Renewed interest in Orkin Tract in Oconee and Athens-Clarke Counties

The Athens Banner-Herald

http://onlineathens.com/stories/061206/news_20060612040.shtml

June 12, 2006

Orkin tract being given second look -Biopharmaceutical firm

 

By Don Nelson

 

A biopharmaceutical company that had turned its sights away from a local site in favor of a North Carolina location again is considering whether to build on a mammoth tract that straddles the Clarke-Oconee County line, according to economic development officials.

The company is looking at a portion of the Orkin tract, a 920-acre parcel along U.S. Highway 78 and Georgia Highway 316.

"We are working with (Georgia economic development officials) on a prospect," said Oconee County economic development director Matt Forshee, who confirmed the business was a biopharmaceutical firm.

A confidentiality agreement limits what details officials can release about the company, Forshee said, but the firm expressed interest in part of the Orkin tract in November 2004.

"Then it died, and then it came back in January of this year," Forshee said. "The same company that had elected to go to North Carolina has taken a step back."

Forshee did say that leaders of the biotech business expect to make a decision by the third quarter of this year, and if they pursue the Orkin tract site, will employ 18 people by 2007.

State Department of Economic Development officials would not comment on specifics of the prospect, said a department spokeswoman.

The Orkin tract is considered one of Georgia's prime industrial development sites by economic development experts. Prospective companies attracted to the location have gone elsewhere because the large tract of land is situated in both counties, and it's uncertain which government will provide water and sewer service, issue permits and tax the industry, officials say.

Officials with the two governments have been discussing a cooperative approach for the property for at least seven years and hired a consulting company, Lockwood Greene, more than two years ago to help draft an intergovernmental agreement that outlines each county's role in providing services and taxing.

Forshee said the agreement is not a sticking point for leaders of the biotech firm currently considering the property, but they would like to see such a document in place. A draft of the first part of that agreement could be complete next month, he said.

"We want to get something on paper and start moving in a positive way, " he said. "(The first phase of the agreement) will address utility service, first responder activities such as fire and emergency service."

More technical aspects, such as an agreement on code requirements and property taxes, will take more time to negotiate, and might go before both county commissions late this year or early next year.

Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish and Oconee County Administrator Alan Theriault are reviewing the basic draft of the first phase of the agreement, said Drew Page, director of the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Foundation.

Earlier this year, Page said, government engineers were studying how much it would cost to build a sewage treatment plant on the Orkin tract. Since then, however, officials decided the two counties can handle any short-term sewage needs without building a treatment plant.

The consultant also created a list of industries best suited to the tract, Page said, including companies that build computers and electric instruments or design the systems that make them work; engineers and architects; and pharmaceuticals and biotech producers.


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