Residential areas on Hiawassee’s wish list for commercial development

City of Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – As the City of Hiawassee continues its pursuit to activate and institute a Downtown Development Authority (DDA), establishing a geographical Rural Zone Designation for economic development is a key factor in the process. FetchYourNews filed an open records request with the City of Hiawassee following a public announcement by Economic Developer Director Denise McKay stating that 209 properties had been identified by the city government as potential redevelopment sites.

The properties on the City of Hiawassee’s list of proposed locations include numerous occupied buildings and several residential homes in the area. A full copy of the properties is available: Rural Zone  (Click to view document)

The DDA is primarily a policy-making and major decision-making entity that plans and manages the downtown area. The DDA is a corporate body recognized by state law, and it is eligible to receive certain grant funding, whereas, a local business or merchants association may not qualify. From an Internal Revenue perspective the DDA is considered to be governmental tax-exempt. The DDA can utilize a variety of financing tools outlined in the Official Code of Georgia. Funding created from the implementation of the measures can be used in a number of ways to bring about revitalization and economic development of the central business district.

Hiawassee City Hall

Hiawassee City Hall

The DDA can work with volunteers from the local business association, citizens, the city and county to
bring about the revitalization of the downtown area, or depending upon a set of criteria for qualification, a
DDA may choose to initiate a Main Steet Affiliate, as the City of Hiawassee has opted, or a Better Home Town Redevelopment Program.

The DDA must be activated by the city government prior to functioning. This is accomplished by first designating the downtown area boundaries with the city; appointing the initial directors of the authority; creating a resolution which also declares that there is a need for such an authority; pass the resolution, and file copies of the resolution with the Secretary of State and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The DDA law states that the authority shall consist of a board of seven directors. The directors must be taxpayers residing in the county in which the authority is located. At least four of the directors must also be owners or operators of downtown businesses. Directors of authorities created under the DDA law are appointed by the governing body of the municipality. Directors will be required to attend and complete at least eight hours of training on downtown development and redevelopment programs.

Hiawassee City Council members are currently in the process of selecting and submitting their choice of board appointees to Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales. Once the body is formed, the authority can undertake commercial, business, office, industrial, parking, or public projects if it claims to benefit the downtown district.

The following are powers that are specifically provided to the DDA created under the Downtown Development Authorities Law of 1981:

1. To sue and be sued.
2. To adopt and to change, as necessary, a corporate seal.
3. To make and execute contracts and other agreements, such as contracts for construction, lease or
sale of projects or agreements to finance projects.
4. To purchase and own property, real or personal, and to sell or otherwise dispose of property, lease or rent property. The authority’s property is tax-exempt.
5. To finance projects by loan, grant, lease or otherwise.
6. To finance projects using revenue bonds or other obligations of authority.

The establishment of Hiawassee’s Rural Zone Designation is expected in October. Hiawassee City Council is scheduled to adopt the Downtown Development Activation Resolution Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 6 pm at city hall.

Rural Zone  

Feature Photo Credit: City of Hiawassee/Strategic Plan



  1. Hubert August 5, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Redevelopment for who??? For working class people from this area who seek revenue and enjoy small town values, or for wealthy retirees who seek to push out the local mountain people from the areas they grew up in.
    Progress is a good thing, but people moving up to other areas after bankrupting their previous areas of residence is what I see here. Inflate property values, slap on a coat of paint, then sell out leaving a community bankrupt and destitute. Believe me, people do this for a career. Prey off the weaknesses of others.
    Locals beware. Get involved in Hiawassee now before it dissapears.

  2. JC August 6, 2019 at 11:32 am

    So what is the answer? Promote the city to stay in ruins with abandoned and out-of-business commercial properties? Re-elect those that steal from you, that pay themselves to live a life of leisure while your family makes $8.00 an hour? Doesn’t sound much like “small town values” to me. If we keep electing what we always have, then we’ll keep getting the same circus every four years.
    Hiawassee belongs (to the great) State of Georgia, not “mountain people”. Unless your an Indian American chances are your family moved here too. In reality we are ALL move-ins. And it’s extremely ignorant to think everyone came from bankrupt, over-painted, abandoned, locations. Woodstock, Canton, Coconut Grove, upstate NY & NJ, (and much colder northern cities) are thriving with economy, without big city problems. Who are you referring to that moved here from
    Allentown ? Or Detroit? Or Chicago? Or Long Island? That point wasn’t really worth a response, but….. ? Take a look around..the working class here are “working” largely in part because of the spike in growth. Yet you complain. The added plus is the increase in property value in this county. Yet you complain. After the property crash p, Towns Co. took a substantially severe and detrimental hit. Ask any business owner or realtor. Had it not been for the non-locals (as you call them) we’d look like Andrews NC. A stunning and beautiful area, but can’t even afford a Police Chief. Yet you complain.
    I for one couldn’t be prouder of the voters of this city. It’s taken years to elect officials that care about all of us, that show up to work everyday and give 100% to increase our quality of life. Yet you complain.
    Thx Mayor Ordiales and Commissioner Bradshaw. Keep up the good work. We have all taken notice.

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