Clarkdale community concerned about new facility

About 50 members of the Clarkdale community and Cureton Woods subdivision showed up Nov. 5 to complain to Austell City Council members about their unanimous Sept. 10 decision to sell 54 acres of city property for $4.6 million to Taylor & Mathis of Atlanta.

Not in the Austell city limits, the 138-home Clarkdale Historic District, built around 1931 off Austell Powder Springs Road and near the former Coats & Clark Threadmill Complex - now owned by Austell, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Taylor & Mathis will buy the city property at the corner of Austell-Powder Springs Road and Dr. Luke Glenn Garrett Jr. Memorial Highway northwest of the city’s fire station and next to the Norfolk Southern Railway intermodal terminal, City Attorney Scott Kimbrough told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, following the Austell City Council meeting on Sept. 10.

Austell Mayor Pro-Tem Ollie Clemons and Kimbrough added on Sept. 10 that a facility - to be constructed by Taylor & Mathis - will be leased to serve the intermodal terminal.

Intermodal means to provide transfer of freight from ship to train to trucks for final delivery.

During the Nov. 5 Council meeting, Clemons, in the absence of Mayor Joe Jerkins, offered more details:

  • City officials were sought out by Taylor & Mathis to buy this property that is zoned Light Industrial already. "It's not that it was needed. (The land) was just sitting there."
  • It was "not a requirement" for the city to notify Clarkdale or Cureton Woods residents of this pending decision.
  • Austell has entered into a purchase-sale agreement with Taylor & Mathis that is "not something that can be stopped."
  • Six months are involved for "due diligence," including a traffic study, and "no idea" on the construction timeline.
  • The end user is not known, and there are "no restrictions on what they can build."
  • The 550,000 square-foot facility is "a speculative build" with "no tenant."
  • The $30 million facility should yield 150 to 200 "high-wage" jobs.
  • A 50-foot berm buffer and an additional 17 acres of city property will separate the development from Cureton Woods and the Clarkdale Historic District.
  • There will be no truck traffic on Austell-Powder Springs Road.
  • How much more truck traffic and how much more light and noise are not known.
  • The $4.6 million profit will go first to pay city debt, then possibly for a Quiet Zone in the city.
  • Clarkdale and Cureton Woods concerns can be directed to Austell officials for communication with Taylor & Mathis.

The $100 million Austell intermodal terminal opened in 2001 on 450 acres to help Norfolk Southern Railway serve the ports of Charleston, Savannah, Miami and Jacksonville.