The final nine mile Baldwin County Fall Line Freeway construction joining the long-awaited roadway with U.S. Highway 441 near the Wilkinson County border brought talk of a joint Fall Line Regional Development Authority (FLRDA) industrial park.
Phase 1 of the jointly owned park has a dedicated funding mechanism of $50,000 per year for the first 20 years from Norfolk Southern increasing to $100,000 for the next 20 years.
Buying the state property is the first and currently vexing step.
Vested parties, including Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority Executive Director Matt Poyner, made trips to the capitol during the recent legislative session negotiating purchase of the state-owned land.
The local consultant and State Properties Commission (SPC) appraisal numbers don’t match. Executive Director of the Wilkinson County Development Authority Jonathan Jackson said there is a $600,000 disparity between the state’s highest appraisal and the FLRDA’s lowest.
Preliminary maps for the Wilkinson park show 119 usable acres (140 total) divided into eight parcels. The Baldwin side has 217 usable acres (305 total) across 11 parcels varying from six to 70 acres.
“They are asking a price for this land that we feel is not reasonable. They’ve had their appraisals, and we’ve had our appraisals done. We realize we can’t get it for free, but at the same token it’d be nice to have some common ground,” Poyner said.
SPC spokesman Paul Melvin said the property acquisition stands still while negotiations continue. The state has no current or planned use for the land but wants what it sees as fair market value.
“We need to stay close to those appraisal values,” Melvin said. “That’s what we work from.”
The state appraised the four Phase 1 tracts and took into account proposed Fall Line construction throughout the area, according to the SPC.
“It’s our understanding that the local appraisal included the entire property. I think that’s where the difference is in the value,” Melvin said.