BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The newly-formed development authority shared their mission and vision with the public during their first official meeting on Monday, June 3, 2019 at the Blue Ridge City Hall.
The mission of the Downtown Development Authority, as read by board member Michelle Moran, “is to enhance the economic potential, and preserve the historical character, of the downtown district through promotional activities, development, and an organizational structure that focuses on community involvement with local business’, residents, and other citizens.”
Moran continued that the vision, though not yet approved, is that “Blue Ridge is Appalachia’s most inclusive, family-friendly, fresh water destination featuring world-class dining and shopping, a growing economy, entrepreneurial opportunity, and all-season recreation. The city of Blue Ridge is also designated Georgia Community Authority and Georgia Council for the Arts. We are committed to preserving our unique community while maintaining a vital, successful and attractive downtown for our residence, merchants and visitors. All citizens of Fannin County will have a greater appreciation, respect and understanding for the historic center. The Central Business District (CBD) will be valued as a vibrant economic and cultural district and a vital contributor to the communities heritage and identity. The CBD will be better because of the partnerships, investments and enhanced sense of place. Blue Ridge will have an enhanced quality of life in which to live, work and play.”
The Vision statement approval has been tabled until further modifications can be made, so changes are to be expected.
One thing board member Jay Hamilton wished to clarify, in response to a question from a citizen attending the meeting, is what exactly a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is and what a DDA does. Hamilton states that a DDA has several purposes.
They are used in cities throughout the state as a mechanism to revitalize and re-develop municipal central business districts. The purposes are outlined by four P’s: protect, powers, projects and potential.
For protect, DDA’s are regulated by state statute so they can provide protection to cities who work through their DDA’s. Example, cities are not liable for their DDA’s debts or contracts.
For powers, DDA’s have certain powers granted by the state that cities don’t have. For instance, to acquire by purchase, lease, or otherwise, in the whole lease and dispose of real and personal property. So they would be able to acquire buildings, etc. and lease them back to the city, etc.
For projects, DDA’s are charged with re-development of their service area and completing projects. For an example, the acquisition and renovation of downtown properties for target business recruitment and expansions.
For potential, DDA’s are concerned only with their mission and projects, not the burdens of the local government. So board members have the potential to solve problems and engage in sustainable redevelopment.
Hamilton went on to say that grants, fundings and so on are available to the Downtown Development Authority that simply aren’t available to the city.
Several board members were absent from the meeting, and there’s much that needs to be re-examined and modified moving forward. Fetch Your News will be attending upcoming meetings with the newly-established Downtown Development Authority, so be sure to stay tuned for future updates!
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