Downtown Development Authority brainstorms plan for Hiawassee’s future

News
Hiawassee DDA

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) met Monday, Oct. 15, at Hiawassee City Hall to plan the revitalization stages of the city’s economic structure. Joint Economic Developer Denise McKay, along with DDA Chairman Herb Bruce, Tamela Cooper, Maggie Oliver, and Lindie Wright were in attendance.

A beautification goal for murals to grace the sides of local businesses is progressing with two locations tentatively identified. The cost to the city of Hiawassee will amount to approximately $3,000, McKay said. Minor changes were adjusted in the DDA bylaws, and the fiscal year was adapted to coincide with the city of Hiawassee’s audit period of July 1 through June 30. DDA directors who do not attend four consecutive meetings will forfeit their position on the board. A quorum, defined as the minimum number of members of an assembly that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of the session valid, was determined to amount to the majority of DDA directors.

Objectives for use as marketing material were discussed in the form of a brainstorming session. DDA directors seemingly agreed that a “visually appealing city” would draw additional business to the area, aiding in the creation of a “cute, little downtown.” The board members noted a need for after-hour businesses, such as restaurants and a tempered, nightlife atmosphere. City “walkability” was a factor in the forum. Activities for youth was mentioned, and target audiences from two separate age groups- 16 to 40 year olds and 40 to 80 year olds – were formed.

The city’s DDA was created to operate in conjunction with Hiawassee’s strategic plan. The future meeting schedule and ideas for activities and fundraisers were listed under new business. In addition to the members present at Monday’s session, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Teresa Andretta, and Judith Weible form the city’s DDA. Mayor Ordiales was out-of-town, and could not attend Monday’s meeting.

 

Feature Image: Hiawassee DDA Chairman Herb Bruce at the Oct. 15 meeting.

 

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Hiawassee’s DDA schedules inaugural session

News
DDA

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Directors of Hiawassee’s newly-formed Downtown Development Authority (DDA) gathered for a meet and greet with Hiawassee City Council Monday, Aug. 26. The DDA received information packets from Economic Developer Denise McKay, prior to the inaugural committee session scheduled for Monday, Sept. 16 at 6 pm at Hiawassee City Hall.

The selected DDA board of directors are:

  • Herb Bruce
  • Judith Wieble
  • Tamela Cooper
  • Lindie Wright
  • Theresa Andrett
  • Maggie Oliver
  • Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

According to the Georgia Municiple Association, DDAs and their appointed boards are created to revitalize and redevelop the central business districts of cities in Georgia. DDA training provides local leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to ensure “a healthy, vibrant downtown.”

DDA

A proposed concept for a vacant building on Main Street in Hiawassee’s strategic plan.

DDAs have a range of powers which include developing and promoting downtowns; making long-range plans or proposals for downtowns; financing (by loan, grant, lease, borrow or otherwise) projects for the public good; executing contracts and agreements;  purchasing, leasing or selling property; and issuing revenue bonds and notes.

The inaugural meeting will consist of the election of a DDA chairperson, co-chairperson, and a secretary-treasurer. New business will include a review, discussion, and tentative modification of the authority’s bylaws, enactment of the DDA contract, and the establishment of the committee’s future meeting dates and order of business. In addition, a directors’ update will take place with discussion of Hiawassee’s strategic plan and upcoming DDA member training.

DDA

DDA directors (pictured left) met with Hiawassee City Council and Economic Developer Denise McKay (pictured far right)

According to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the agency that assisted in formulating the city’s strategic plan, DDA training involves discussion of the responsibilities of development authority boards and the role that authorities serve within the local economic development process.

Basic training topics are listed as:

  • legal issues
  • ethics
  • conflicts of interest
  • open records and open meetings requirements
  • the basics of financing development authority operations
  • incentives
  • bonds
  • strategic planning in community development
  • project development and management
  • emerging issues that affect development authorities

Building upon fundemental knowledge provided by basic training, an advanced course allows board members to refine their skills while executing the comprehensive plan of action for the community.

Hiawassee DDA meetings, as well as Hiawassee council sessions, are open to the public.

Feature Image: A portion of Hiawassee’s Strategic Plan is to revitalize commercial real estate.

Credit: City of Hiawassee/Carl Vinson Institute of Government

 

 

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

City of Hiawassee plans public DDA meet and greet

News
Hiawassee City Hall

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Seven directors were recently selected to serve on Hiawassee’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and the city has planned a public meet and greet with the appointed board members tomorrow evening, prior to the council’s 6 p.m. work session.

“On Monday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a special meeting (meet and greet) with the members of the newly formed Downtown Development Authority and the City Council of Hiawassee in the Council Chambers at City Hall,” City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick said. “Refreshments will be served.  At 6 p.m. the DDA will be presented with their information packages and date of first official regular meeting, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 at 6 p.m. at Hiawassee City Hall.”

The DDA board of directors are:

Herb Bruce

Judith Wieble

Tamela Cooper

Lindie Wright

Theresa Andrett

Maggie Oliver

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

According to the Georgia Municiple Association, DDAs and their appointed boards are created to revitalize and redevelop the central business districts of cities in Georgia. DDA training provides local leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to ensure a healthy, vibrant downtown.

DDAs have a range of powers which include: developing and promoting downtowns; making long-range plans or proposals for downtowns; financing (by loan, grant, lease, borrow or otherwise) projects for the public good; executing contracts and agreements;  purchasing, leasing or selling property; and issuing revenue bonds and notes.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Hiawassee’s Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors Selected

News
Hiawassee City Hall

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Board members for the recently created Hiawassee Downtown Development Authority (DDA) were named per open records request sent last week to the city of Hiawassee by FetchYourNews (FYN), following activation of the DDA by Hiawassee City Council Tuesday, Aug. 6. A list of the individuals selected to serve on the authority was delivered to FYN by Hiawassee City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick via Joint Economic Developer Denise McKay.

The appointed DDA board of directors are as follows:

Herb Bruce

Judith Wieble

Tamela Cooper

Lindie Wright

Theresa Andrett

Maggie Oliver

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

According to Georgia Municiple Association (GMA), DDAs and their appointed boards are created to revitalize and redevelop the central business districts of cities in Georgia. DDA training provides local leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to ensure a healthy, vibrant downtown. According to the University of Georgia, DDAs have a range of powers which include: developing and promoting downtowns; making long-range plans or proposals for downtowns; financing (by loan, grant, lease, borrow or otherwise) projects for the public good; executing contracts and agreements;  purchasing, leasing or selling property; and issuing revenue bonds and notes.

Denise McKay

Joint Economic Developer Denise McKay serves Hiawassee, Young Harris, and Towns County

The DDA consists of a board of seven directors appointed by the municipal governing authority to serve four-year terms. Directors are appointed by the governing body, and must be taxpayers who live in the city and/or owners or operators of businesses located within the downtown development area and who are taxpayers residing in the county in which the municipal corporation is located, except that one director may reside outside the county if he/she owns a business within the downtown development area and is a resident of the State of Georgia. One director may be a member of the governing body of the municipal corporation. No less than four of the directors must be persons who either have or represent a party who has an economic interest in the redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown development area. Directors receive no compensation other than reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in performing their duties (O.C.G.A. § 36-42-7). All members of the board of directors, except for the director who is also a member of the city’s governing body, must complete at least eight hours of DDA training within the first 12 months of appointment to the DDA.

Advantages of creating an authority include:

  • the ability of the municipal government to delegate responsibility
  • to have a body that will assist in developing and operating a single purpose facility (such as water and sewer, parking facility, etc.)
  • carrying out a focused public purpose, such as economic development
  • financing a project through revenue bonds
  • creates a way to have ongoing oversight of operations after initial development is completed
  • their activities may be less influenced by politics
  • there is some distance between the city and the authority, which is helpful if controversies arise.

Disadvantages to creating authorities include:

  • authorities can become overly independent
  • authority boards are often appointed to terms longer than those of the elected officials who appointed them
  • they can become financially self-sufficient from the city from operations of the facilities they develop
  • they are likely to be less responsive to public opinion and to local governments.

Despite the level of independence of authorities, municipal governing bodies do have oversight powers and controls, GMA explains. For example, the boards of all municipal authorities are comprised of members appointed by the city’s governing authority. For many authorities, a certain number of city officials are either required to serve or may be appointed to serve on the board. The activities of authorities must be consistent with those described in the local Service Delivery Strategy. The enabling legislation for some authorities specifically states that board members serve at the pleasure of the governing authority. Authorities typically have bylaws that govern their activities and describe their organization. Additionally, authorities are subject to open meetings and open records laws set forth by the state of Georgia.

FYN will continue to follow developments related to the newly-formed DDA. A meet-and-greet to provide an introduction between council members and the selected board was suggested by Mayor Ordiales at the Aug. 6 regular session, prompting FYN to request information on the assembly.

“A meet and greet has not been scheduled as this request and the meeting date, location and times have not been determined as of this request,” Economic Developer McKay responded via email. “When the DDA meets for the first time all this will be considered and on the published agenda.  Proper notification will be given to the legal organization for publishing the meeting and agendas will be posted as required.”

Archives on Downtown Development Authority

Archives on Rural Zone Designation

 

 

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Residential areas on Hiawassee’s wish list for commercial development

News
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

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Commissioner Bradshaw talks economy, jobs, and “small town feeling”

News
towns county courthouse

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw opened his monthly meeting, Tuesday, June 18, with  an update on the county’s financial health. “Right now, the sales tax collections are up around $28,000 from what they were this time last year, so we’re very thankful for that. We give that to a good economy. We give it to many people trying to do many things to promote our county, have events, and bring  people here, and they spend money, and have a great time. They leave and then it’s longing to come back here again, and they do, and a lot of them come back and build a house or buy a house, and that’s what it’s all about, so were very thankful.”

Towns County Commissioner

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

Commissioner Bradshaw noted the proven economic contributions of Candace Lee of the Towns County Chamber of Commerce, who was in attendance, and officially introduced Denise McKay, who serves as the economic developer for Hiawassee, Young Harris, and Towns County as a whole, praising McKay’s initial efforts.

“Jobs are very important and this is the whole plan…,” Commissioner Bradshaw went on to say, emphasizing the appeal of a “small town” essence, including a desire to deter younger generations from relocating from the area due a lack of employment options. “But I do feel like it is our job as county government to try to promote businesses, and try to promote some growth so that we can provide job opportunities, and that’s what Denise is here for. However, and she understands, and she likes it here, that’s why she moved here, but we don’t want to lose the small town feeling.” The commissioner concluded that his pressing goal is to fill vacant buildings and empty lots within the county with economic opportunities, beneficial to all.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Hiawassee’s Downtown Development Authority activation postponed

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Council - 2019

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council met for their monthly regular session Tuesday, June 4, passing a “Broadband Ready” ordinance, while delaying the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Activation Resolution listed on the agenda. FetchYourNews previously reported on the scheduled activation.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales explained the broadband ready ordinance. “It’s just a matter of getting us ready for when they start funneling out money for broadband for rural areas; we are set on go, we are ready to go,” Ordiales said.

DDA activation was postponed due to an absence of individuals who will serve as board members. “The object is to see if we can find folks that live in the city that also have businesses in the city. That’s ideal,” the mayor said. “That’s going to be tough to find, but that’s the key, what we are trying to do.” Mayor Ordiales noted that Councilwoman Amy Barrett was the sole official who has submitted potential candidates to fill positions.

According to the Georgia Municipal Association, “a DDA consists of a board of seven directors who are appointed by the municipal governing authority to serve staggered four-year terms. Directors are appointed by the governing body and must be taxpayers who live in the city or they must own or operate a business located within the downtown development area. They must also be taxpayers who live in the county in which the city is located. One of the directors can be a member of the municipal governing authority. Board members do not receive any compensation for serving on the DDA, except for reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in performing their duties With the exception of a member who also serves on the city council, all DDA board members must take at least eight hours of training on downtown development and redevelopment programs within the first 12 months of their appointment to the DDA.”

The DDA resolution, as presented to Hiawassee City Council, follows:

A RESOLUTION TO DECLARE THE, NEED FOR THE  CREATION OF A DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY TO FUNCTION IN THE CITY OF HIAWASSEE, GEORGIA, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF  THE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITIES LAW O.C.G.A. Section 36-42-4, et seq. OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA; TO ACTIVATE SUCH DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY AND APPOINT A  BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR SAID DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY; TO AUTHORIZE SAID DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY TO EXERCISE THE POWERS CONTAINED IN  SAID DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY LAW; TO PROVIDE FOR NOTICE TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA AND THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS OF THE ADOPTION OF THIS RESOLUTION; TO REPEALS CONFLICTING RESOLUTIONS; TO PROVIDE FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES;

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council have determined that it would benefit the city of activate the Downtown Development Authority for the City of Hiawassee, and

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council, after thorough investigation, have determined that it is desirable and necessary that the Downtown Development Authority of the City be activated immediately, pursuant to the Downtown Development Authorities law;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hiawassee, and it is hereby resolved by the same, that there is hereby determined and declared to be present and future need for a Downtown Development Authority (as more fully described and defined in the Downtown Development Authorities Law) to function in the City of Hiawassee.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that there is hereby activated in the City the public body corporate and polite known as the “Downtown development Authority of the City of Hiawassee the following named persons;

 

Name:                                                                                  Term:

Two Years

Two Years

Four Years

Four Years

Six Years

Six Years

Six Years

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That the Board of Directors hereinbefore appointed shall organize itself, carry out its duties and responsibilities and exercise its powers and prerogatives in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Downtown  Development Authorities Law as it now exists and as it might hereafter be amended or modified;

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the “Downtown Development Area” shall align with the proper city limits as it now exists and as it might hereafter be amended or modified;

 

BEIT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Hiawassee shall promptly furnish to the Secretary of State of the State of Georgia a certified copy of this resolution in compliance with the provisions of the Downtown Development Authority Lay;

 

Be IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any and all resolutions in conflict with this resolution be and the same are hereby release;

BE IT FURTHER Resolved that this resolution shall be effective immediately upon its adoption by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hiawassee and from and after such adoption the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Hiawassee shall be deemed to be created and activated.

 

Hiawassee City Council is scheduled to meet for their monthly work session Monday, June, 24 at 6 p.m. Work sessions are held in the upstairs training room at Hiawassee City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

Hiawassee’s strategic plan moves forward, sign ordinance discussion continues

News, Politics
Hiawassee economy

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Slightly more citizens than usual turned out at the council’s regular session at Hiawassee City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 5, to hear the five elected officials’ verdict on several issues, including the wastewater expansion bid, a pending sign ordinance, the city’s five-year strategic plan, and a proposal to expedite the adoption of future mandates.

Mayor Liz Ordiales opened the session by reminding the public that comments are not permitted during regular sessions, rather work meetings are the proper time to offer citizen input as they are “informal” gatherings. “That is the place for all kinds of public input,” the mayor said.

Concerning the sign ordinance, council dialogue revolved primarily around banner advertising. After lengthy discussion, the council resolved to amend the tenative ordinance, eliminating a $15.00 fee for businesses to hang banners, and removing the verbage pertaining to the amount of banners a business is permitted to display annually. A single banner, not to exceed 60 square feet in diminsion, is expected to remain in the decree. The council agreed that banners should be kept in presentable condition. An extended sign permit moratorium remains in place while the council reconstructs the ordinance.

Liz Ordiales

Mayor Liz Ordiales outlining the strategic plan before the Mountain Movers and Shakers Jan. 25

Later in the session, Hiawassee City Council unanimously adopted the city’s 2019-2024 revitalization plan. Upon motion from Councilwoman Anne Mitchell and a second from Patsy Owens, Councilman Kris Berrong initiated discussion, explaining that he, along with community members, harbor hestitation. “Concerns of a few that have the strategic plan, and me, personally, I think that we need to talk about it a little bit more. I’m for a lot of it, but we kind of went over it one time with (Georgia Municiple Association) and that was about it,” Berrong relayed.

“But you have a copy,” Councilwoman Anne Mitchell interjected. “I do,” Berrong replied, adding that he was not confident in exactly what might occur when Mitchell pressed. Council members Amy Barrett and Nancy Noblet offered that they had spoken with business owners who had voiced similar concerns.

“This would serve as a document for us to use as a guideline for what we want to do in the city,” Mayor Ordiales said, “This was not our input; this was not the University of Georgia’s input. These are the people in the city who came to our focus groups, who came to the one-on-one interviews, who came to the town hall meetings.”

When a local business owner’s concerns were specifically outlined by Council member Amy Barrett during the session, Mayor Ordiales stated that the owner in question was invited to participate in the focus groups and declined the offer. FYN contacted the business owner the following day and was surprised to learn that the owner had, in fact, attended a focus group, but did not recall receiving any type of follow-up initiated by the city of Hiawassee.

Prior to the council vote, Noblet asked Economic Developer Denise McKay what the initial stage of the comprehensive plan will involve. McKay responded that “basic landscaping and hopefully painting” the post office, beautifying the entrance to Ingles with foliage, and improving the town square are the city’s starting points, explaining that the projects are “fairly easy and inexpensive to do.”

During the council’s work session the week prior, McKay listed public art in the form of murals as the third project, rather than the town square, when FYN publicly inquired into the initial three-fold plan.

A resolution to award the wastewater expansion project to SOL Construction, the lowest bidder, was approved by the full council during the meeting. Mayor Ordiales projected completion by fall of this year.

The session concluded with 3-2 rejection of the mayor’s proposal to enact single-session ordinances. Additional information on the issue is available by clicking this link.

Hiawassee City Council assembles for their monthly work session Monday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

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