The county board tasked with sparking economic development has thrown its support behind a proposal to jump-start redevelopment in Columbia County.
The Development Authority of Columbia County voted Wednesday to support a referendum to allow the creation of Tax Allocation Districts, or TADs, in the unincorporated portions of the county. If approved by voters during the June 19 special election, the Columbia County Commission could designate certain areas for development or redevelopment.
Once established, a TAD would freeze property values in the selected area, and additional funds from rising tax assessments in that district would be used to finance capital improvements.
Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a measure to allow the county to create TADs in April. Many cities and counties in the state have used TADs to help redevelop blighted areas or develop new lands, said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.
"What it does is give us one more tool ... to be able to compete with other communities that have this," he said. A TAD could be used to encourage developers to revitalize commercial areas such as Martinez, he said.
The use of TADs is credited for the development of Atlantic Station, a 138-acre mixed-use residential and commercial mini-city in midtown Atlanta, Szablewski said. The development was once an Atlantic Steel brownfield site and now features shopping malls, high-rise office buildings and condos.
The Development Authority isn't the only economic development organization supporting the referendum. The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce executive board voted May 18 to support the measure, said Karen Chrjapin, its executive director.
Though he supports the move, authority member George Duerhing advised county leaders to be up front with the public about the proposal and explain what it means.
"I think this is a big step forward," he said.
Szablewski said it had not been determined whether public information sessions would be held on the matter, but they will be considered.
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