Two sites considered for new industrial park

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2003

A preliminary report targets a north Lincoln County area andanother one west of Brookhaven as potential sites for a newindustrial park, but officials are still weighing pros and cons ofeach location.

An approximately 450-acre site on Mount Zion Road and a roughly640-acre 16th Section site west of Brookway Boulevard Extensionwere mentioned during Monday’s Lincoln County Board of Supervisorsmeeting as finalists in a draft report being prepared for county,city and Industrial Development Foundation officials. Six siteswere reviewed during the study, which was conducted during the pastyear.

“We’ve got it narrowed to two, but there are some real questionsabout the 16th Section,” said Carl Ray Furr of EngineeringAssociates, the firm awarded the contract for the study.

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Industry recruitment questions regarding owning, selling orleasing school land got officials’ attention Monday. SixteenthSection land is designated trust land set aside to helpschools.

Mentioning property taxation issues, Board Attorney Bob Allensaid there were “considerable problems” with the 16th Sectionland.

Allen pointed to local school board and Secretary of StateOffice regulations regarding leasing of school land. Citing hisresearch, he said leased school land would be subject to propertytaxes, which means government entities could not give a standardexemption as an incentive while trying to attract new industry.

“I don’t find anything that you can exempt 16th Section land,”Allen said.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop mentioned potential roadblocksrelated to school board involvement in industrial prospectrecruitment. He indicated that added activity could be detrimentalto Brookhaven and Lincoln County industry recruitment efforts.

“It causes grave concerns down the road in trying to compete ona level playing field,” Bishop said.

Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, said he had spokenwith Secretary of State officials regarding the school land issues.He said there was a lengthy but doable process toward resolving theissues.

Regarding the Mount Zion Road site, distance from Brookhaven wasmentioned as a potential drawback. The site is an estimated sixmiles north of the city.

During the board meeting, Furr suggested a dual approach ofdeveloping both sites, with the Mount Zion Road location as theprimary park space and the 16th Section land as a secondary option.The approach is similar to one used by Jackson in developing sitesnear Byram and on Interstate 20, Furr said.

“Nowadays, more and more larger industries are wanting to be onthe interstate,” Furr said, indicating support for the Mount ZionRoad site.

Russ urged officials to support the new industrial parkdevelopment.

“We’re literally scraping the bottom of the bucket out there inthe existing park,” Russ said.

IDF Chairman Phillip Grady, who was not at the morning meeting,echoed Russ’ comments about the crucial need for new industrialland. He, however, did not indicate a preference of one site overthe other.

“It’s premature for me to speak on the value on one site versusthe other,” Grady said. “The critical thing is for us to worktogether and build consensus between the city, county and IDF toobtain industrial park land that will be marketable for industry torelocate to Brookhaven and Lincoln County.”

Furr said he was awaiting a legal review from Allen beforefinalizing the study for the city, county and IDF. Furr met Mondayafternoon with the IDF board and plans to meet with city officialsin two weeks.

“We’re not going to rush into anything,” Furr said about a parksite recommendation. “It’s too important for us not to have it downlike we need it.”