The Brunswick Urban Redevelopment Authority will soon have the task of marketing the tract where the Oglethorpe Convention Center would have been built.
Brunswick city commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting unanimously approved an amendment to the memorandum of understanding with Glynn County, owner of the tract in downtown Brunswick.
“It would be better to market the entire tract,” City Attorney Brian Corry said. “The URA will market it for developmental purposes.”
The city will have to pay fair market value for the tract in its undeveloped state, but no appraisal has been conducted, Corry said.
“It leaves the ability for the city and the county to come together for compensation,” he said. “The URA could pay the county from the sale.”
Compensation to the county could also be done if a tenant wanted to lease the property.
Commissioner Julie Martin agreed with the recommendation.
“It removes the burden on the URA to seek redevelopment of the property,” she said. “The URA would ultimately come to the city with a recommendation.”
In other business, city officials were asked to approve a letter drafted by Corry that will be signed by Mayor Cornell Harvey to the Georgia Transportation Board.
The board is planning to amend its right of way rules and regulations, and some of the language is a concern to municipalities across the state, Corry said.
The word “municipality” is removed from the new language, leaving questions about the city’s ability to collect fees. Utilities, phone and cable providers pay $5,000 a mile to use the city’s infrastructure to run cable lines.
The word “rate” was also removed and replaced with the word “fee.” While they may sound like they mean the same thing, they are not even close, Corry said.
“In the eyes of the law they are very different things,” he said. “This could be considered an unconstitutional gratuity because they could use city property without compensation.”
What’s potentially at stake is the city and county’s ability to continue to charge for the use of their infrastructure.
City officials speculated the proposed changes are driven by lobbyists representing cable companies.
“I’m not sure why they want to do this,” Corry said. “We just want it to stay like it is.”
The meeting began with a presentation about options for a planned public transportation system in Brunswick.
A consultant, Jim Rictchey, gave city officials four options to consider, including one that would provide two routes in the city and one from downtown Brunswick to St. Simons Island.
Another option is a micro transit system, where riders make trip reservations and use a credit card to pay for the subsidized payment.
The easiest and least expensive option is to use the existing taxi services in the city to provide on-demand rides that would be compensated up to $10 a ride.
The fourth option, and the most viable one, is for the city to establish two routes in Brunswick with one taking riders as far as Walmart and the other route going to the College of Coastal Georgia, the hospital and other locations.
The buses would run on a loop every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Ritchey said a city-only fixed bus route would cost about $1.3 million a year. He suggested the city seek partners such as the college and hospital for financial help.
Public meetings will be scheduled to discuss plans at a date to be determined.