Fannin County Board of Commissioners met on Monday night during a special called meeting to hear a request from the Fannin Development Authority (FDA).
The FDA was there requesting that the Commissioners sign a Resolution that would give the FDA $85,000 a year safety net so the FDA could obtain a loan to build a spec building. The money would not be used unless worse case scenario and the FDA could not pay for the building.
The Director of the FDA, Stephanie Scearce, Chairman of the Board, Johnny Chastain, and a few board members were present to answer any questions from the public or the commissioners.
Post Commissioner Earl Johnson started the meeting off by saying,
“This is a huge decision by our county. I believe everyone here realizes that. This is a stepping stone of where our county is going to go.”
The way the resolution is written the county will take over ownership of the building if the FDA fails to make payments and taps into the $85,000 yearly allotted moneys.
Commissioner Johnson inquired as to the projected term limits. The first resolution that was brought forth asked the BOC for a ten year, $85,000, budgeted line item. The resolution that was being voted on had a very different time line. In the paperwork it stated
“Through the duration of the loan.”
This would mean that the county would be responsible for the line item for the next twenty years. If the payments are deferred for the first five years, which is an option, that puts the loan in effect until 2040.
Scearce let the audience in attendance know that the FDA has the ability to pay the loan for a minimum of nine years with profit and loss charts. She went on to state,
“Hopefully in that nine year period we can land a tenant to use the lease money to pay for the loan. That money is not guaranteed to happen. We need this as a guarantee to be able to secure the loan.”
Chastain spoke to the group next. He let the board know that the FDA had bought the property with the intent of building on it. He stated,
“We came real close…super…super close to landing a Fortune 500 company on that site. We got to the top three. They decided to do something different. They remodeled a place in Henry County that suited their needs better.”
The room was full of opinions and questions for both of the boards. One gentleman asked if any thought or consideration was put into the expansion of Hwy 5? If the expansion happens and takes traffic away from that location what would happen? Chastain and Scearce both let the crowd know that they had not thought of this.
Jan Eaton was present urging the commissioners to do their due diligence before voting. She stated that the City of McCaysville told her sewer was not present at the site however Scearce had informed them it was. Eaton also reminded the BOC that the FDA did not get an appraisal on the piece of land before buying it and reminded the board that it appraised for approximately $130,000 less than what the FDA paid for the property.
Upon hearing all of the public commentary, Commission Chair Bill Simonds, made a motion to accept the resolution.
Taking a long pause Simonds asked for a second, Commissioner Johnson began to speak. He said,
“At this point I am not approving that piece of property. If I decide to second this motion it would be strictly to move forward with this spec building in hopes it turns out like the Blue Ridge Textile Facility (FDA owned building that is prosperous.)"
Johnson questioned Scearce wanting to be clear about the money and if had to be used specifically for that project and asked if the property and building would be turned over to the county if the FDA used any of the allotted money? With an answer of “Yes” to both, Johnson seconded the motion.
Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee abstained from voting.
The resolution will now allow the FDA to seek approval for a loan in hopes to build the facility. The next FDA meeting is scheduled for late April.
Watch the meeting in full to see and feel the tension in the room.