LULA — Lula officials say the recovering economy has the city poised for growth opportunities.
During Monday night’s city council work session, Mayor Milton Turner and City Manager Dennis Bergin said the city anticipates receiving an annexation request for 160 acres located across Ga. 365, and mentioned a couple of other opportunities.
While they declined to provide specifics about potential applicants, Turner and Bergin Monday night discussed a possible mixed-use retail development near the corner of Belton Bridge Road and Ga. 365 northbound, the 160-acre parcel located across Ga. 365, and a new agricultural use for an existing industrial building located on Pine Street.
“The good news is the economy continues to warm up,” Bergin said. “Just by the number of building permits we’re issuing, that’s a direct reflection of the increase in interest on the commercial side and industrial side of development within the city. There was a time not too long ago that things were rather slow, and with the economy improving and warming up that opportunity is presenting itself now, so we’ll just have to see where we go from here.”
Bergin said there is a process in place that any annexation requests must go through.
“The council will have to weigh out whether that serves in the best interest of the city,” Bergin said. “We have a comprehensive land use plan that we’re matching up to make sure that would correspond with Hall County’s plan as well as the city’s plan. It’s an evolution that takes a little while longer. In that particular case, it would probably take about 90 days from beginning to end before you’d get a consideration of approval or denial.”
Asked whether the large tract of land would be used for industrial, commercial or in another way, Bergin said, “I’ve been asked not to speak to that directly. Let’s see what the application comes back, but I think it’s going to be mixed use.”
An industrial site already inside the city soon may see new light industrial use in the agriculture industry.
The building, located on Pine Street, could become a specialty vegetable growing facility.
“We have an existing industrial site that would probably suit well for them to bring in indoor greenhouses and grow, of all things, mushrooms because there’s a big demand on that,” Bergin said. “I’ve learned a lot about that just recently. It’s a great opportunity and it’s rather unique in its application. There are a couple of others in the United States; one I believe is in Illinois. Then this one would be the first one centrally located in the South.”
City leaders say they don’t anticipate heavy truck traffic to the facility should it be used for the indoor greenhouse operation.