Bowman Mayor proposes compromise
Wed, 10/10/2018 - 7:50pm
In an effort to reach a compromise between the Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman and the city councils of Bowman and Elberton, Bowman Mark Berryman has asked the City of Elberton not to take back land in the city’s industrial park set aside for economic development and has asked the development authority to “demand the resignation of Development Authority Executive Director Rusty Warner.”
Berryman explained his compromise proposal in a letter he delivered Wednesday to the Elberton City Council and Elbert County Board of Commissioners. Berryman said he has asked Bowman City Attorney Richard Campbell to deliver the letter to a development authority representative Wednesday afternoon. Berryman also said Wednesday afternoon Bowman council members did not sign his letter but he had informed them that he would be submitting the proposal.
Both city councils of Bowman and Elberton have pulled funding for the development authority, while the county has continued its support of the development authority. In the last two years the development authority has worked to build a speculative building in the industrial park.
Last week the City of Elberton, by letter, informed the development authority that by contractual agreement dating back to 1996 the city was “obligated” to reclaim land in the industrial park (for $1) that has not been developed.
Last Thursday (Oct. 4) Elbert County Commission Chairman Tommy Lyon compared the city’s actions to “bullying,” and Tuesday night at a political forum County Commission District 2 representative Lee Vaughn said the city’s actions would “add another layer of bureaucracy” to economic development efforts in Elbert County.
Berryman’s letter, dated Oct. 9, said he feared “the long-term effects” of the City of Elberton’s actions in the long run could be damaging to the county.
“I think we can agree … that creating greater divisions between one another is not the answer,” said Berryman in his letter. “I ask you to join me in looking for common ground so we can create a brighter future for our county, our children and our grandchildren.”
Berryman proposes that the City of Elberton, in good faith, postpone its efforts to take ownership of the Elberton Industrial Park’s unimproved tracts until at least Dec. 15.
He also proposed that the development authority “demand the resignation of Development Authority Executive Director Rusty Warner within 10 days of accepting this agreement. If Warner does not submit a resignation within the designated time period, Elbert County, the City of Elberton, the City of Bowman and the Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman will terminate his employment within 30 days.”
After Warner’s employment has been ended, Berryman asks the City of Elberton to end its effort to purchase the industrial park, allowing the property to remain under the control of the development authority. Afterward, Berryman proposes that both councils from Elberton and Bowman restore funding for the development authority.
Finally, Berryman said he would seek to have a “completely transparent” hiring process involving the chief elected officer of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman and the chairman and one representative from the development authority.
The Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman is scheduled to meet Thursday morning at 11 a.m.