Senoia considering city-wide development authority
by Sarah Fay Campbell
The city of Senoia may be creating a development authority with powers to work on economic development throughout the city.
The Georgia legislature already created development authorities for every city and county in the state, said Senoia City Attorney Drew Whalen at Monday night's city council meeting. All it takes to get the development authority up and going is for the council to pass enabling legislation and appoint board members.
Whalen said he was contacted by an attorney with Charter Schools USA, the parent company of the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia. The school has recently expanded and now owns the church property where the school is located, Whalen said.
"At this point they are looking for permanent financing for those improvements," Whalen said. As a charter school, they qualify as a non-profit, and could get bond financing from an appropriate authority.
The attorney wanted to know "does Senoia have an authority to be able to work with us on this project?" Whalen said. The school, on Hwy. 16 East, is outside the bounds of the Senoia Downtown Development Authority's area, and therefore the DDA could not help them with the bonds.
"We really don't have another authority at this time that can do this," Whalen said.
If the city moves forward with establishing one, it would be "a true economic development authority" with "powers to do a wide range of projects that stimulate the economy, as far as the promoting of job growth, stimulating employment," Whalen said. And of course educational facilities would fall under that.
Whalen said he had spoken to City Manager Richard Ferry about it and that Ferry had spoken to most of the council.
"I see it being a positive for the city. I don't see a downside," Whalen said. "Frankly, it is an authority that probably should have been activated," already he said.
"It will take us a little bit of time to put together my proposal," Whalen said, if they want him to move forward. There will need to be seven to nine individuals on the authority board of directors, and one of those can be a council member.
Whalen said he could have things ready to go by the October council meeting.
"At that time, we'd also have to appoint the members," said Mayor Robert Belisle.
Members have to be at least 18 years of age and residents of Coweta County. Those are the only requirements.
"I would probably look at people who are in a position to help stimulate growth and development," said Whalen. "People who might have some connections that you could use to build upon, maybe in the corporate world, the industrial arena."
Of course Senoia has its own unique economic development aspect with the film industry.
"We have to find names, start talking to people, pool those names," said Belisle. "Have a discussion next meeting and if we choose to go forward, pass the resolution."
Belisle made a motion to have Whalen move forward asked council members to contact people about serving on the authority and to give him the names of those who agree to serve.
The name of the new organization would be the Development Authority of the City of Senoia.