GAINESVILLE – Hall County has been trying to secure the deed to four parcels of land that will be a used as part of the Georgia Inland Port System, but after months of negotiating with the property owners it appears that an impasse has been reached and exercising the power of Eminent Domain may be the county’s most viable option.
At Monday’s county commission work session commissioners heard a request from Hall County Attorney Van Stephens that would authorize him to take whatever steps are necessary to acquire the property in a timely fashion including condemnation.
Just over two years ago the Georgia Ports Authority named Gainesville as a site for its newest inland port location and told Hall County it would be responsible for acquiring some of the land needed for the project. Time is running out for the county as 2021 is the date given for completion of the project.
(Other Georgia inland ports are located in Chatsworth, Bainbridge and Columbus.)
The four parcels being sought by the county are adjacent to Hillcrest Drive, sandwiched between Cagle and White Sulphur Roads and will be used for an entry road into the 104-acre port facility, a facility that will provide access to a direct rail route from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.
Hall County Commissioner Shelley Echols said during Monday’s discussion, “I just want to say in public that this is one of these deals where the state has told us to do this and we’re just doing what the state has asked us to do.”
The four parcels, which total just over three acres, are owned by the Wiley Heyward Coley Irrevocable Trust under the management of Neva C. Latty and Kevin Ward Coley.
According to the resolution: “Attorneys for Hall County have attempted to acquire the necessary property through negotiations with an attorney for the property owners, but negotiations have been unsuccessful to date. Condemnation is necessary in order to comply with the timeline for construction of the project.”
Stephens said after the work session, “We’ll either acquire them through negotiation and purchase and have a Warranty Deed, or if we can’t arrive at a price it’ll be through a condemnation action.”
“At this point we just need to have the authority to move forward in order to comply with the project deadlines,” Stephens added.
The measure will be voted on by Hall County Commissioners at their Thursday evening voting session.