Latta Commerce Industrial Park Master Plan Presented To Council
By Betsy Finklea
Dillon County Economic Development Director Tonny McNeil appeared before the Dillon County Council at a called meeting on Wednesday morning to present the Latta Commerce Industrial Park master development plan.
McNeil said the property is about 45 acres located around Wilco on Highway 38 West.
Before McNeil proceeded with his presentation, he was questioned by Councilman Harold Moody. H. Moody asked McNeil where this project came from. “I’ve never heard of this before,” said H. Moody.
H. Moody asked if this was the land that the county had purchased from Jeff Lee for $600,000. The answer was no that it was not.
H. Moody then asked if they had discussed this in the county office before. McNeil said that had discussed it, but not the plan.
H. Moody asked if this had anything to do with the sewer problem they had assisted Latta with at an earlier date. McNeil said he was not familiar with that.
“This is amazing,” said H. Moody. “I’ve never heard of Latta Industrial Park.”
McNeil said that they had the Latta Industrial Park by Diversified Plastics, the property purchased from Jeff Lee at Highway 38/917 that was changed to the name of Oak Grove Industrial Park, and that the property they were speaking of was around Wilco at the 181 exit where the hotel was located and was 45 contiguous acres with all the infrastructure in place.
McNeil said he saw this as an important property because many prospects are asking for interstate frontage, and he said there were some lucrative projects that has showed on interest in this property. He said it was a good site and gave them more available product along I-95.
McNeil said when the property became available, an option was drafted.
McNeil then spoke briefly about the master plan. He said it shows the size buildings that could fit into this property.
McNeil said they needed to get the land option agreements finalized and certification. He again stated that he felt like it would be an asset to have the site because of the interstate frontage.
He also presented council with some invoices. He said that Commerce would be responsible for 75 percent of the cost. The county’s cost would be roughly $14,000.
H. Moody said that personally he felt they needed to see the land option agreement before they do anything otherwise they would be doing work on private property.
McNeil said the option agreement needed to be modified.
He said they have a signed agreement with Robert Johnson, but this needs to be changed to Robert’s Rentals.
Chairman Aron Gandy said they discussed this about 6-9 months ago.
H. Moody asked if the county had paid one penny on this. McNeil said he was asking the county to pay and mentioned the reimbursement from Commerce.
H. Moody said he hoped some of these sites were successful noting that for a small county, they had a large number of sites.
H. Moody said rather than to continue to work on sites, he would rather see McNeil development one site and get a building on it. He said McNeil should slow down on getting more sites and work on recruiting industry. Councilman Bobby Moody said he agreed 100 percent.
Councilman Joe Johnson asked about the interest in these sites. McNeil said different prospects want different things.
Johnson asked what the price of the land option was. McNeil said right now the land option at this site was $25,000 per acre.
H. Moody said he didn’t think the county needed to pay any bills until after the land option was signed.
Councilman Andrew Graves that McNeil needed approval and that he couldn’t go forward with out it.
H. Moody asked who negotiated the price of the option. He said they needed to be consistent with other land owners who had similar property.
Graves asked if they had done any negotiations for a better option price.
McNeil said he could try to negotiate for a better deal.
H. Moody suggested that the building committee, McNeil, and the landowner meet and get the paperwork from other deals and negotiate. He said he thought members of council should be in on the negotiations.
The matter was tabled after the discussion.