Fort Valley adopts development plan

FORT VALLEY — The City Council designated a redevelopment area and adopted a plan to spur economic development.

The plan, adopted by the council during its meeting Thursday, deals primarily with the former Woolfolk Chemical site, the downtown area and the area around Fort Valley State University.

The Woolfolk site is a 31-acre area that was once a Superfund site because of the pesticides and chemicals dumped there by manufacturers. Cleanup of the site is expected to be completed within the next year.

Mayor John Stumbo said adopting the plan provides the city with new opportunities.

“This precipitates benefits such as grants and other things that we can avail ourselves of,” Stumbo said.

City Councilwoman Florine Statham was the lone vote against the resolutions. Her opposition derived from the inclusion of the Woolfolk site.

“I have a problem with everything going through the Superfund site until I know it’s clean,” Statham said.

Statham also voted against an ordinance that would establish an enterprise zone in the redevelopment area.

Within enterprise zones, the city could allow for property tax abatements for new businesses.

For the first year, the city would allow for 100 percent tax exemption. In the second year, 75 percent of the taxes would be exempted. In the third year, 25 percent of the taxes would be abated.

The business would have to make its full tax payment after that.

In other action, the City Council also voted to unfreeze two vacant police officer positions because $71,000 in funds have been made available through a Justice Assistance Grant.

The grant came out of the American Recovery Investment Act that was part of President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

“This is stimulus money that has come down to Fort Valley,” Stumbo said.

To contact Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236.