MOULTRIE -- Moultrie-Colquitt County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Chairman Billy Fallin had little to say at a called meeting of the board Tuesday.

Fallin, who has received a lot of flak lately for advocating the purchase of the Smith/Turner property south of Moultrie to develop a new industrial park, ceded center stage to fellow board member Moultrie City Councilman Wayne Cooper.

Cooper called the meeting to discuss infrastructure demands of four proposed industrial park sites: the properties generally known as Baell/Cole/Herndon/Kilgore, Smith/Turner, Lasseter/Darbyshire and Mobley/Buckner.

The board ran through the advantages and disadvantages of each site. Plans were last week to narrow the four sites down to two, but the eight members present of the 11-member board opted only to shift the Lasseter site to the end of the list. No order of preference was indicated for the other three.

No meetings are scheduled until after the beginning of the year, and at that time a new board will be in place.

It was the general consensus of the board to start from scratch with engineering assessments of the properties. An Atlanta engineering firm already had completed the first phase of site studies, but the EDA fired it earlier this month after it submitted inadequate work.

The EDA solicited further help from the city to detail the infrastructure needs of each of the sites. So far, the city came up with preliminary costs of the considered sites, including costs to run utilities to the properties but not costs to lay infrastructure in the site itself.

At a cost of $1,395,750, the Lasseter/Darbyshire site offers 180 usable acres out of 269. Average cost per usable acreage is $7,022.18. City utilities are already on site.

The Baell/Cole/Herndon/Kilgore site has almost 640 usable acres on a 726-acre spread. City utilities are available, so the preliminary estimated cost of the site would be $3,729,250 at an average of $5,829.87 per usable acre.

The Smith/Turner site has 566 usable acres out of 617. That number of usable acres includes the current airport flight path but not a larger, proposed flight path. At a total preliminary cost of $2,550,000, the most southern and controversial site is also the cheapest per usable acre -- $4,505.30 -- even with the addition of $750,000 for a sewer pumping station and a water tank for fire protection, said Moultrie Utilities Director Roger King.

The Mobley/Buckner site contains almost 720 usable acres out of about 834 acres. The property owners are asking the highest price per usable acre an average cost of $7,989.44. EDA Executive Director Darrell Moore said that cost may be lowered.

This most northern site is not presently in within the city limits and would have to be annexed. The EDA would have to spend $1.5 million to run city water and sewer to the site, King said. (Gas was not included in any cost estimates at this point.) The current preliminary total cost is figured to be $5,751,120.

The current 1 percent sales tax used to fund the development of a new industrial park will fall short of the initial estimated $5 million, but all the development costs would be spread over years, even decades, Moore said. Plans are to purchase core properties with options on abutting acreage, he said.



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