No action taken by Re-Development Authority

By Justin Boron

The Clayton County Re-Development Authority discussed but did not act on property acquisition Tuesday in a closed meeting, said the group's attorney.

The "executive session" discussions come after Emory Brock, the county's economic development director, said over 200 acres of property acquisition could be considered at the meeting.

The Re-Development Authority closed the meeting, citing exemptions for real estate under Georgia Open Records law.

In a carefully worded statement, G. Robert Oliver, the Redevelopment Authority's attorney, said the group had plans to acquire 94 acres of property from the city of Atlanta for the Mountain View Redevelopment project, but would not connect those plans to discussions at the closed meeting.

A memo announcing the meeting mistakenly stated Mountain View Redevelopment as the subject for discussion, he said.

Roland Downing, the chairman for the Re-Development Authority, also said the board had no plans to acquire property beyond what Atlanta currently owns.

But Brock reaffirmed Tuesday that the county would eventually obtain the land owned by numerous private developers in the area.

The apparent disagreement in plans is purely semantic, Brock said.

Although the re-development board would not acquire the privately owned land directly, Brock said a development partner to be selected in the coming weeks would likely buy up much of the property in the east Mountain View area with the Re-Development Authority's oversight.

"The Re-Development Authority will not technically do it, but they will be involved," he said. "It's just a way of looking at it."

For legal reasons, the board can own a project but cannot manage it, Brock said. So a development partner is needed to carry out much of the redevelopment plans.

The property acquisition would likely take over a year to complete, he said.

The money for the property's purchase could come from the Mountain View area's tax base if the development partner chooses to implement a tax allocation district, Brock said.

The district, also called tax finance districts, give incentive to developers by helping to support up front costs such as the purchase of property, Brock said.

The measure determines how much the future development will increase the area's tax base and allows developers to receive bonds based on that increase.

However, the county and school district must agree to the creation of tax allocation districts because they will not receive any part of the increased tax base until the bonds are paid.

"Basically, it's a legal way to divert taxes from general county funds," Brock said. "But the school and county doesn't lose a dime."