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Commerce to get massive industrial park development

A massive 600-acre industrial park with 10 planned warehouses and industrial buildings was announced Oct. 1 for Commerce.

Named Bana 85 Commerce Center, the project is being done by the Rooker development firm of Atlanta. Rooker has had previous property in the Commerce area which has already been developed. One of those projects was the property where the massive SK Innovation battery plant is being constructed.

The new project property fronts areas of I-85, Hwy. 98 and Wheeler Cemetery Rd. near I-85 Exit 147 in Commerce. Plans for the property call for 10 spec buildings, two of which are over 1.5 million sq. ft. in size. Rooker said in a news release that up to 6 million sq. ft. could be built on the site. Utility construction and some grading is set to begin in 2020, the release said.

“We’ve been looking to re-invest in Jackson County and Commerce since selling Commerce 85 Business Park for the SK Innovation project in 2018, so we’re excited to be back in the community with a property that adds tremendous value to the already thriving area,” said John Rooker, CEO of Rooker. “Jackson County is experiencing strong project location growth and job growth. We expect that our investment in Bana 85 Commerce Center will result in the creation of new jobs and an expanded tax base, which will benefit the local community. We also believe we have a unique offering for tenants and users. Bana 85 Commerce Center is in the growing Northeast submarket of Atlanta, one of the largest  submarkets with interstate access that is second to none.”

A section of Interstate 85, from mile marker 131 to 133 north and south lanes, will be dedicated to Edward Monroe "Eddie Roe" Evans at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. A monument to the former Jackson County deputy is on I-85 in the south lanes between the Jefferson and first Braselton exits, where Evans was killed in the line of duty Nov 4, 1994. Evans was a Jackson County deputy for years before his death.

All but Commerce top state SAT average

Most high schools in Jackson County topped the state and national averages on the SAT.

The Georgia Department of Education released its 2019 SAT results last week.

Commerce High School was the only school in the county to fall below the state and national averages.

Jefferson High School had the highest average in the county. While East Jackson and Jackson County comprehensive high schools scored the same average.

Details include:

•Commerce High School — 1030 with 77 test-takers

•Jefferson High School — 1110 with 173 test-takers

•East Jackson Comprehensive High School — 1058 with 106 test-takers

•Jackson County Comprehensive High School — 1058 with 165 test-takers

•State — 1048

•National — 1039

Early voting opens Monday

Early and absentee-by-mail voting for the Nov. 5 election starts Monday, Oct. 14, at the Jackson County Elections and Registration Office in Jefferson for all cities across Jackson County.

During the final week of early voting, Oct. 28-Nov. 1, Braselton voters can only cast their votes at the Braselton Police and Municipal Court Building.

Meanwhile, voters in the other cities can cast their ballots at any of the early voting locations during the final week of early voting.

Those early voting locations are: Jackson County Elections and Registration Office, 441 Gordon St., Jefferson; Commerce Parks and Rec, 204 Carson St., Commerce; and Braselton Police and Municipal Court building, 5040 Hwy. 53, Braselton.

Early voting hours are Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polling locations include:

Arcade — Arcade City Hall, 3325 Athens Hwy., Jefferson.

Jefferson — Civic Center, 65 Kissam St., Jefferson.

Nicholson — Benton Facility, 5488 U.S. 441, Nicholson

Commerce — Parks and Recreation, 204 Carson St., Commerce.

Maysville — Methodist Church, 8482 Maysville Rd., Maysville.

Braselton — Police and Municipal Court Building, 5040 Hwy. 53, Braselton.

Hoschton — Hoschton Depot – 4272 Hwy. 53, Hoschton.

County to promote 2020 census

Jackson County officials are gearing up to promote the 2020 census.

The results of the census will have a big impact on the amount of state and federal funds the county might qualify for and also how money is divided in the county between various public agencies.

The census data will also be used to determine reapportionment lines of local public officials and their districts.

As part of its efforts, Jackson County officials will be handing out buttons at local football games in the coming weeks and will attend upcoming festivals and parades and speak to civil clubs to promote people returning the census forms.

The 2020 census is slated to be mailed in March.

The national return rate for census paperwork was 79.3 percent in 2010. Jackson County was slightly above that at 79.8 percent in 2010.

Youth sports improvements planned

The Commerce City Council is expected to approve contracts for improvements at two youth centers at its Oct. 21 meeting.

The council heard Oct. 7 about a bid from West Georgia Lighting to install LED lighting and poles around Ridling field for youth sports. The bid is $217,492 and the work is expected to take about two weeks.

The second contract will be for the former Boys and Girls club field at Ridgeway and Mercury streets.

City manager James Wascher said the city first asked for bids and did not get any. A second round of bidding produced three bids, but all were between $250,000 and $350,0000, over the budgeted amount.

Wascher said the low bid probably can be reduced to about $200,000 by substituting some wood chips material to go under playground equipment instead of a new rubberized surface that would be about $48,000.


The council also will consider a utility contract to replace 200 feet to 250 feet of the city’s main natural gas line.

The contract is recommended for Harrison and Harrison, which put in the gas line from Bouchard Farm to Diana Food at Banks Crossing. The contract will be for $133,740.

Wascher said some of the Good Friday flooding in Commerce washed away part of the support for the gas line. He said it is an eight-inch line and is the main service for all of the city.

“It’s kind of an emergency item,” the city manager said.


The council also will consider three planning items, two for rezoning and annexation into the city.

Wascher said one item, 195 B. Wilson Rd., still likely would get staff denials for variances – one for paving and one for a fence.

Wascher said the ordinances are “pretty clear, particularly on the paving.” The council approved a fence around the project and paving in the interior of the building.

The owners, Brian and Tawana Wood, requested those variances be dropped. They said the fence is not needed because the storage units will be built 10 feet high and the fence would be only six feet.

The Woods also asked that the interior paving be dropped to save money. They also said a gravel area would help with water drainage.

Wascher said the council could set other conditions and ignore the staff recommendations.

Land at 8533 Jefferson Road would be rezoned R-1 and annexed. Beverly George owns the property.

Wascher said it would preclude an “island” being created by land all around it being in the city.

Other land at 8569 Jefferson Road is requested for annexation and rezoning to city R-1. The planning commission recommended the action with conditions.

The nearly 51-acre tract first was planned for about 150 houses, but that later was cut to 69. Wascher said that would nearly equal half-acre lots.

Council member Bobby Redmon asked that any document about the planned subdivision include language that would provide some room for change but strongly indicate to a developer that lots need to be near the half-acre size and meet setback requirements.

The conditions also include half the houses be at least 2,900 square feet of space and half at least 3,400 square feet; set up a “perpetual” homeowners’ association and it be on the final plat;require an amenities package that includes a pool and clubhouse to be built within two years of breaking ground; and a marquis entry with some sort of traffic slowdown.


In other business, the council:

•heard a request for three regulations that will deal with small cell wireless packages. Wascher said the General Assembly passed legislation which took effect in July. The state law allows for the installation of the small cell technology without getting agreements with each municipality. Wascher said one change deals with the right-of-way, one deals with pole attachments and one is an agreement with Verizon. He said the city already has approved two other agreements with companies.

•will be asked Oct. 21 to approve street slow-downs for the fourth annual Hometown Holiday Hustle 5K for the Commerce High School girls’ basketball team.

•spent several minutes debating a request Wascher got recently for a rooftop dining proposal that would require moving cables in the Cherry St. parking lot. Wascher said one of the people involved in the proposal is “an old college friend” of his. Council members generally agreed the city could bury two electric services to the restaurant. Going beyond that commitment would require up to $100,000, Wascher said. The city manager noted the area includes a lot of services, including electricity, cable and fiber optics. Several transformers are on poles, too.