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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2007
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EDA has options on property for industrial park

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — It’s not clear whether county and municipal leaders in Morgan County will have a note-burning ceremony when the final bond payment is made on Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park next month.

“I don’t know,” Commission Chairman John Glasscock said. “I’m just glad we’ve got this paid off and are moving forward with the next park. That’s going to be one of the biggest things in Morgan County.”

While no property for the industrial park has been purchased, the Morgan County Economic Development Association does have the right of first refusal on land between Hartselle and Falkville.

EDA President Jeremy Nails was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

But Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley said the acreage is between 119 acres and 170 acres.

Location

The land is west of Interstate 65 near Thompson Road and is phase one of what may be a 2,000-acre park, Tankersley said.

“We have not issued any bonds, but we expect to begin work early next year,” he said.

After the commission and seven municipal governments passed unanimous resolutions, Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, and Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, passed legislation in the last session to continue diverting Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-taxes funds for the park.

Tankersley said there is another bill that lets county governments establish a “cooperative district” to receive the TVA funds and use the money for an industrial park “along the I-65 corridor from county line to county line.”

Expanding authority

Grantland and Orr also passed legislation to expand the power of the Decatur-Morgan County Port Authority beyond the three-mile limit from the Tennessee River.

“This will allow that body to help with developing the new park,” Grantland said.

The bill lets the port authority develop motels, restaurants, coffee shops, stores, warehouses, factories, manufacturing plants, office space and other commercial buildings, including industrial parks.

Nails said previously that the proposed park would be “first class” but different from Mallard Fox Creek, primarily because it wouldn’t have rail and barge services. He expects tenants in the park to be light industrial.

Before EDA can start recruiting industry for the area, county and municipal leaders must cross some tough hurdles.

The first issue is getting sewer to the property. Hartselle Utilities has estimated it may cost as much as $1.5 million.

HU’s nearest sewer line is more than a half mile away on U.S. 31.

In addition to infrastructure, other issues are on the east side of I-65. Land acquisition may be more complex than with Mallard Fox Creek.

According to a map in the revenue commissioner’s office, almost 300 property owners are in the proposed land east of the interstate.

“We’re looking at the big picture, but right now we’re putting a lot of energy on Phase 1,” Tankersley said.

As was the case with Mallard Fox, county and municipal governments will pay for the park.

The percentage of TVA funds withheld from each municipality will be based on population.

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