During its Monday morning meeting, the Liberty County Development Authority approved the site plan for SNF Chemtall’s warehouse expansion, Floquip. The approved plan included some variances, such as removing three parking spaces from the visitors’ entrance in the cul-de-sac. It also included an exception to the minimum-standard required between the truck/visitors driveway and employee driveway.
SNF Business Director Kirk Thomas told LCDA members the expanded warehouse doubles the size of the Floquip facility, where his company produces the equipment to meet engineering-company requirements.
Thomas also was responsible for a special presentation given to the LCDA by Leigh Ryan with the World Trade Center-Savannah. Thomas represents Liberty County as one of WTC-Savannah’s 14 regional board of representatives members.
Ryan told board members WTC-Savannah is one of 300 licensed world trade centers in more than 100 countries. She said their mission is the same as the LCDA — to attract investment and create jobs. More importantly, she said, WTC-Savannah helps regional businesses develop international strategies while focusing on three objectives: helping regional businesses expand internationally, identifying more foreign direct opportunities for investment in the region and generating revenues to support these activities.
LCDA CEO Ron Tolley recently attended a WTC-Savannah class, where, he said, he met a woman who owns a small business that makes cake icing. Ryan confirmed the woman’s business, which she said is now exporting products to several countries. She told the LCDA that exporting comes with risks, just like any other business venture.
“You know, people say we do nothing for small businesses,” state Rep. Al Williams said. “It would be good if that story was told to more people. … We need to do a better job letting small businesses know there is a niche for them.”
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette suggested sharing the information Ryan provided about WTC-Savannah with the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce. All members agreed. They also agreed to have Thomas report back to the LCDA biannually with updated information about what WTC-Savannah is doing.
In other business, LCDA members agreed to issue a letter declining a request by a developer to provide water and sewer services on Charlie Butler Road. Tolley said the letter should include a statement that says the LCDA reserves the right to provide those services to that area in the future.
They agreed to grant LCDA Chairman Allen Brown the authority to approve construction easements for Atlanta Gas Light to install a gas pipeline from Barrington Ferry Road near Highway 119 in Riceboro to Highway 17 then to Highway 84 in Midway to Sunbury Road. Liberty County Attorney Kelly Davis said authority should be given to Brown to approve the easements on behalf of the LCDA because there still is some uncertainty about whether the easement would be temporary or permanent.
LCDA members also approved a resolution to close the authority’s timber account. LCDA Director of Administration and Finance Carmen Cole said the account was opened to deposit funds generated by timber sales. She recommended closing the account and transferring the current $240,000 balance to their general-fund savings account. Williams recommended they exercise the same fiscal discipline learned during the “tight times” and not spend that money too quickly.
Thomas and Hutton Engineering Co. environmental group leader Chris Stovall told LCDA members about the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s new restrictions on pumping water from the Floridan aquifer. He said red-zone counties, like Chatham and parts of Effingham counties, as well as yellow-zone counties, like Bryan and Liberty, essentially have six options to meet the new restrictions:
1. Use green-zone wells (i.e., Long County)
2. Consider alternate aquifers off-shore, which are salty and hot
3. Use surface waters like the Ogeechee River
5. Re-use treated water
6. Buy water from other sources
Board members expressed both concern and disdain for the option of buying water. Williams said it would make water a commodity for trading, which would only hurt poor counties.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas told board members that Hinesville’s water-treatment plant at Fort Stewart already is re-using water for irrigation. He said that program only will grow with completion of renovations to that plant at the end of 2015. Hinesville has enough water for current use and future expansion plans, he said.