The Madison County Industrial Authority is making progress in developing a business friendly area around the Dogsboro intersection.
They just came to an agreement with the board of education for property in the area to be used as a discharge site for a sewage treatment plant for commercial users. This is a long-term project that is taking on a more urgent purpose. As I said last week, many of Madison County’s residents are being hit twice by the inflated gasoline prices. Because of the lack of jobs in the county, many of them are being forced to drive long distances just to find work.
The county’s current growth plan calls for economic development in the southwest corner of the county. That includes the area surrounding the giant Ingles Super Market and the county’s newest elementary school. A significant amount of land in that area has been rezoned for commercial use, but finding companies to relocate or expand into the area has gone slowly. And the major problem has, and continues to be, infrastructure; specifically, water, sewage and traffic control.
The industrial authority’s first action was to purchase and expand the area water supply. After aquiring the existing lines from Athens/Clarke, the county has constructed or refurbished two deep wells, added two storage tanks and installed several miles of new water lines. That is all well and good. But providing water is only half the solution. Collecting, treating and discharging the water once it has been used is the next.
A combination of high water table and soil types makes it difficult for businesses to operate on septic tanks in the area. Plans for Ingles Markets to build an expanded shopping center at their site were curtailed due to problems with waste water disposal. One corner of Ingles parking lot was left unpaved with the expectation of attracting a major restaurant chain. Public access and traffic counts indicated the site would be an excellent one for a steak restaurant. But when the company found that there was no sewage in the area, they chose to abandon the effort, saying that they simply could not operate with a septic tank.
Even with the completion of this sewage treatment facility, business will still face a challenge locating in the area. The Dogsboro intersection and its approaches is the busiest and probably most dangerous stretch of road in Madison County. The kind of business expansion being pursued for the are will only make traffic there many times worse. The entire area, from the Clarke County line to the Piedmont Road intersection needs to be upgraded with additional traffic lights and turn lanes. Some planning for these improvements are on the books but they are taking far too long to develop.
A strong business district in and around the Dogsboro intersection has become very important. It will not only give Madison County residents a chance to find work within the county, reduce commute times to and from work, and provide additional sources of revenue for the county government. That would take some of the pressure off the homeowners property taxes. The sooner these things are accomplished, the better.