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Forsyth, Georgia
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August 7, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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August 7, 2019
 

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August 7, 2019 PageSB iRE13orter By I)iane Glidewell news@mymcr.net Monroe County's neighbor to the north is being offered a $1.2 billion industrial project that could change the dynamics of the region. Doug Adams of LGS Industrial LLC is proposing a development with19 distribu- tion centers plus relatively small residential and commercial sections on 1,770 acres at the northeast quadrant of Exit 205 on 1-75. That's just four exits above Forsyth. The area around the exit at Highway 16 has remained largely undeveloped in spite of various plans for it over the years. Most of the property in the proposed "River Park East Commerce Center" development is in Butts County; about 200 acres is in Spalding County. The main en- trance to the industrial park will be in Butts County across from Colwell Road, only 1,500 feet off the interstate. Adams said the large unde- veloped tract so close to the interstate is what makes it perfect for the industrial development. He said that with the deepening of the Savannah port bringing enormous amounts of goods up 1-75, south of Atlanta has been identified as a distribution hub. In response to this designation, two truck lanes are being built that extend from Macon to Mc- Donough. To be efficient these trucks need destinations where they can get offthe interstate and unload as easily as possible, without going through a town or dealing with residential traffic. Adams said this is the type of planning that was not done along Highway 42 in Henry County, for example, and now makes the large warehouses there undesirable for the compa- nies they were intended to attract. Adams said the sprawling, one- story buildings are also dinosaurs because distribution centers are now more interested in having room for tractor-trailers and employees to park. Businesses want six or seven story buildings that leave smaller footprints. They also want a larger position of the building to include offices. They want product to go in one side of the building and out the other side. "E-commerce distribution cen- ters are products of the future" LGS Industrial, LLC has proposed this $1.2 billion industrial development with 19 distribution centers at Exit 205 in said Adams. "Existing buildings can't be retrofitted. That's driving the needy Plans for River Park have been submitted to The Butts County Planning & Zoning Commission to request re-zoning and to the Georgia Department of Com- munity Affairs tO review regional impact of the large development. Adams presented information about the project to Partners for Smart Growth, a Butts County group organized 12 years ago to promote positive growth in the community. Tim Abney of KW Commercial and John Palmer of Falcon Design Consultants joined him in the presentation. [Falcon Design Consultants presented the low bid to Forsyth to design its park plan but was not awarded the contract.] They provided a diagram of the project, de- scribed its vision and impact, and answered questions for about 40 people who attended a 7:30 a.m. meeting on Friday, July 26. "This is e-commerce" said Ad- ams, who lives in Locust Grove but owns lake and timber prop- erty in Butts County. "We haven't seen the tip of the iceberg" Abney said this project rep- resents 1.5 percent of the land in Butts County but has the potential to double the tax base. He said it creates a cohesive, controlled business park that is 85 percent (1,500 acres) focused on e-commerce. Plans are to use 110 acres on Highway 16 in front of the industrial park for retail stores and 89 acres down the road on the other side of River Park from 1-75 for a gated residential community. Abney said he has worked with Adams on various projects for 15 years. Abney estimated a 20-year build out for the entire River Park project but said that would give Butts County $200 million in property taxes alone. He said over the life of the project, it will create 6,000 jobs. He said jobs in technology dis- tribution companies now pay an average of $17 per hour, $35,000 per year. Charles Barlow asked where other developments of this type have been built. Adams said there are examples in Norcross, John's Creek and near the Atlanta air- port. He said one or two e-com- merce buildings have been built at several sites around Atlanta but nothing as large as the plan for River Park. Jackson Mayor Kay Pippin said she knows development is coming, but developers need to be held to the high standards they are promising. She said there are too many examples of poor planning in Henry and Clayton counties and along 1-20 west where logistics centers and houses are side by side. She said the poor planning has created sub-standard housing because no one wants to live next to industry, and substandard housing creates a drain on local services, like police and fire departments. Pippin said she visited a planned community near Hous- ton and is convinced it isn't nec- essary to settle for all concrete in industrial development. Adams said the River Park plan leaves 200-400 acres undeveloped. Abney said they plan on a $312,000 price point for the aver- age house in the 89-acre residen- tial development. He said land planners have recommended 1,000 units for the tract, but they Butts/Spalding counties. have pulled that back to 200 and have proposed a gated commu- nity. 'Tm not opposed to density if it's planned well," said Pippin. "This can be a model for what will be built on the south side" Butts County Commissioner Joe Brown said he has looked at 'the traffic patterns and car and truck traffic won't mix. Palmer said with all the different things coming through the Brunswick and Savannah ports, River Park has a large potential to draw industrial occupants. The truck lanes make it uniquely situatedto get on and off the interstate easily and reach everything you need. The infrastructure is in place. "We're excited; we're very green. We're going to protect natural resources;' said Palmer. "I know you are very pro educa- tion;' said Pippin. "You could do trainings and other things that ' would put our school system on the map. It could be a unique- partnership" 'All of us live locally; we're not going anywhere" said Adams. "It's coming. We're not going to grow trees forever" By Gilda 5tanbery An increasingly popular and fun vacation is the stay-at-home-vacation, or the "staycation" Let's admit it, we probably have spent more time exploring places far away than we have the sites in our own area. This is natural. People tend to dismiss local sites or always assume they will go there some day. There are bound to be places around us we have not explored or activi- ties we have not tried. Imagine the benefits of a staycation: Save money! There are no airfare, hotel, or rental car costs. Ac- cording to an American Automobile Association survey, "The average North American vacation will cost $244 per day for two people for lodging and meals. Add some kids and airfare, and a 10-dayvacation could top $10,000" There are no wasted travel days -- two more vacation days for tim! No travel means no physi- cal drain. Let's admit it, travel can be exhausting. You do not have to spend your vacation with strang- ers, either on flights or in hotels. It is the green thing to do! If the weather is lousy, who cares? Adjust. No need to board pets - more money saved! You can indude them in your outings too! A staycation is a green thing to do! Explore the -area for green ideas like: a nature trail, camping at a site close by, taking bike trips, fishing, paddling, kayaking, canoeing, or just relaxing. Here are 16 things to get you started planning your staycation and #what- todoinforsythga. Look for staycation deals all around, as you #shoplocal and #eatlocal. Change it up! Stay in one of the local hotels and enjoy the amenities they of- fer while getting a change of pace. There is plenty of time to relax and check out the swimming pool, exercise room, in room movies, and free breakfast many offer. Forsyth KOA has mini golf and mining for gems too! Visit our local museum: Monroe County Museum (478-994-5070) has exhibits in two historic train depots located at the corner of Ad- ams and Johnston Streets. Outside, you will find an old fire truck, an even older steam engine, and a newly installed train sculpture - great for selfies! Inside holds the stories of Forsyth and Monroe County. If you are looking for more local history, take a short walk up Johnston Street and visit the beautifully restored Monroe County Court- house, www.monroecoga. org Looking for another great selfie spot? Across the street from the depots is the City of Forsyth's first mural -- to welcome you home! Can you find the hidden green tomato? ' Don't forget to add the hashtags #sweetlifeforsyth and #forsyth cvb. Or visit Hamlin Hills Farm's petting zoo. (844-386-3276) Go to a movie. Yes, you can rent a movie or bor- row one from the library (478-994-7025) and have a movie night at home. Don't forget the popcorn! See a show. Check out Backlot Players perfor- mances at the Rose Theater www.thebacklotplayers. org or what is happening at the Monroe County Fine Arts Center www.monroe- finearts.org Go shopping. Spend the day in downtown Forsyth's shops and boutiques for that unique one-of-a-kind experience. While you are there have lunch at your fa- vorite, or try a new favorite restaurant, for a snack or lunch. Look for staycation specials all around down- town Forsyth. Take a nap. Hey, vaca- tions are to escape from daily life and relax. Catch up on sleep in that ham- mock or easy chair. It is a great time for a little aroma- therapy too! Get the bike out or take , a hike. There are many miles of dedicated shared use trails in and around Forsyth. Pack a picnic lunch and go explore, Need to brush up on bike safety? Pick up your free guide at the Welcome Center, 68 North Lee St. Read a book. You don't have to be sitting in a faraway place to settle in with a good summer read. Pick up the latest best-seller from the library and head downtown to one of the cafes or Lee Street Park. Splurge on a cappuccino or other tasty treats, and spend an hour or two lost in a book. Take an exercise class or spa treatment. Always wanted to try yoga, Pilates, spinning, etc.? Maybe you are ready for a new look and a little pampering? Look to the salons on spa around the Square. Now is your time! Concert On the Square. Forsyth Main Street hosts a series of free concerts each summer. It is a good time to dance, people watch, and have fun for all ages! www. cityofforsyth.net/forsyth- mainstreet Host a potluck or bar- becue. Have the extended family over or host a block par . Ask everyone to bring something and share. Don't miss the Indepen- dence Day Celebration held at the Monroe County Recreation Complex - complete with food, fun and lots of fireworks! Play golf. Even if you're not an avid golfer, this is the perfect time to try it. Forsyth Golf Club is the perfect course for a relaxing game or to take a couple of lessons, www.cityofforsyth. net If miniature golf is more your speed, try Forsyth KOA (478-994-2019). Pan for gold and gems while you are there too! Take a day for High< Falls. Visit High Falls State Park, for events: www. gastateparks.org/highfalls Visit the shops and res- taurants around the park entrance or cool offat the pool! Take a little trip to Iu- liette. Visit the movie set of Fried Green Tomatoes, eat at the Whistle Stop Car6, and visit the shops on Mc- Cracken Street. While you are there, look for Buddy's arm, or take your fishing pole and visit Juliette Park on the Ocmulgee River. Spend time with the kids. People remember the good times spent with each other more than the places they've been. Get out a deck of cards or a board game. Visit the Splash Pad and Pump Track at the Country Club Park. Go on the Forsyth Foxhunt. It is a downtown based scavenger hunt of small fox statues hidden around different shops, businesses, and his- toric buildings, taking you on an adventure through Forsyth. You can pick up the clues at the Welcome Center. This fox hunt is free and sure to delight all ages! Spend time talking, laugh- ing, and reminiscing. Life is short--spend time with family! Staycation ideas are great for entertaining, visiting family, and friends too! For more ideas and a Visi- tors Guide to relax, shop, and dine locally, stop by the Welcome Center at 68 North Lee St. in Forsyth, or visit the City of Forsyth Convention & Visitors Bureau's web site: www. forsythcvb.com. The trick to enjoying a staycation is to deviate from daffy routines and truly make it a vacation. If you enjoy eating out on vaca- tions, do the same on your staycation. Skip the laundry or cleaning the garage. Re- lax! As odd as it sounds, bring discipline to the vaca- tion by not allowing chores or drudgery to intercede and take away the fun. Re- mind yourself that, while you are at home, you are on vacation. If you do, your staycation will be more fun and relaxing! Gilda Stanbery is the Ex- ecutive Director/CEO of the Oty of Forsyth Convention and Visitor's Bureau. i