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Friday February 22nd, 2019 6:18PM

New businesses opt to build rather than re-let

By Marc Eggers
GAINESVILLE - With so many vacant storefronts currently dotting our area's commercial landscape, every time a parcel of land is rezoned by local authorities to allow new construction for a relocating or upstart business the question arises, "Why aren't our leaders pushing harder to get those vacant sites filled before encouraging another groundbreaking ceremony?"

Such was the case following Tuesday night's unanimous rezoning approval by the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board of a 4.7 acre tract on Dawsonville Highway.

People ask, "The new construction might be attractive and a tax-revenue generator that says good things about Hall County, but don't the 'Vacant' and 'For Rent' signs adorning empty storefronts also say something about the area business situation?"

Rusty Ligon has been Community Development Director for the City of Gainesville for nearly five years, and his department deals with rezoning, annexation and variance applications as well as overseeing plan reviews for new development projects.

"We do encourage the re-use of vacant properties," Ligon explained. "We would love to see that."

"Most times before they make it to this point (the Planning and Appeals Board meeting) they have had a number of conversations with our staff, and we've talked about various alternatives
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