A garden center importer's plans to move its headquarters and operations from Athens to Barrow County got the green light from the Barrow County Board of Commissioners on June 8 after the board approved a rezoning request to facilitate the move.

The board approved rezoning 6 acres at Highway 316 and Smith Cemetery Road in Winder from commercial to light industrial for the project. Lotus International plans to move its operations from Dairy Pak Road in Athens to a 60,000-square-foot warehouse and 10,000-square-foot office building in Barrow County.

The firm, founded in Athens in 1992, imports and wholesales home and garden products.

The company also has plans in the future to build a garden center on neighboring property that will remain zoned for commercial use.

The company currently employs 25 people and will add more staff after the garden center is built.

The BOC had tabled the rezoning request last month so that the applicants and staff could work on architectural guidelines for the proposed facilities.

In other zoning action on June 8, the board:

•approved rezoning 24 acres at 161 Pickle Simon Rd., Winder, for a subdivision. Two people spoke in opposition to the move.

•approved rezoning 7.6 acres at 133 Kennedy Sells Rd., Auburn, to divide the property for a family to build on.

•approved rezoning 5.8 acres at 683 Carl-Bethlehem Rd., Winder, for a convenience store.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the board:

•approved an agreement with Bureau Veritas for third-party building inspections for the county. The company also handles third-party code enforcement for the City of Statham.

•approved the county's capital assets inventory which included the removal of several assets.

•approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with Jarrard & Davis for legal services for the county.

•approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with TechOptics for county IT services.

•approved buying three Dell computer servers to use at the Historic Courthouse.

•approved an LMIG application with the state to help fund a left turn lane for the Park 53 industrial park.

•issued a proclamation to recognize EMA director Penny Clack for her work last year during the Covid pandemic.

•heard a report from Scott Masters of Northeast Georgia Health Systems about staffing issues with EMS services.

•reappointed Diane Carr to the Barrow County DFCS Board.

•appointed Christina Lowe to the DFCS Board.

•reappointed Robert Lanham to the Library Board of Trustees.

•reappointed Bill Ritter to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission Council.

•reappointed Tommy Jennings to the Georgia Innovation Corridor Joint Development Authority.

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