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GM plant redevelopment discussed
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
August 15, 2012 07:37 AM | 1017 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Doraville officials anticipate a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 20 will be a flashpoint in the city’s quest to adopt its urban redevelopment plan.

That event comes on the heels of last week’s town hall meeting. The two drafted versions of the plan for a city looking to rectify blight and lagging business prospects were shared with the handful of residents on hand.

“We’ve got a good location; location is great … it’s critical,” said Luke Howe, of the Doraville mayor’s office. “But this is about being able to compete, leveling the playing field.”

Of the two drafted versions, Plan A’s focus is more narrow — its proposed urban redevelopment area comprised of only the former General Motors plant and the adjacent former Seaboard Oil property. Plan B, on the other hand, proposes a much broader redevelopment area that includes most all commercial and multi-family apartment areas, Howe said.

A key element of the Doraville urban redevelopment initiative is the incorporation of possible opportunity zone designations. In accordance with Georgia legislation, areas that meet the criteria will be provided the state’s maximum job tax credit of $3,500 for every job created.

In order to receive the opportunity zone distinction, the proposed area has to be within or adjacent to a census tract with a poverty level of 15 percent or greater.

For the sake of simplicity, Doraville will offer its entire urban redevelopment area as a single opportunity zone, said Howe.

“I don’t think we can feasibly have an economic development plan without this in place,” Howe said.

Residents at last week’s town hall inquired about a range of subjects, from the prospects of eminent domain to the plan’s possible impact on property values.

Doraville Councilwoman Pat Fleming expressed the urgency of the matter at hand.

“If we do nothing in this city to promote economic development, we are going to die, absolutely die,” she said. “The more vacancies we have, the less businesses we’re going to have. I’m sure [prospective businesses] do their homework … not only look at the poverty level, they also look at the vacancy rate and they want to know why.”

Only one public hearing concerning the adoption of an urban redevelopment plan is required by law.

Doraville City Council could move to adopt the plan immediately following the Aug. 20 hearing. Fleming has suggested delaying that vote to Sept. 4, however.
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