By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
IDB members concerned about land
Nafrada on IDB2.jpg

Some members of the Industrial Development Board would like to sell over 200 acres of land the IDB purchased two years ago for nearly $1 million.

Called Elam Industrial Site, the property was purchased by the Industrial Development Board in May 2019 for $981,000. It is a 218-acre site in Morrison that hugs the Coffee County line. 

The land was touted as being as close to Interstate 24 as you could get while still being in Warren County.

At the time of the purchase, there was one glaring problem. The property is landlocked, meaning it does not have road access.

That was presented as a minor hiccup two years ago as there was supposedly a gentleman’s agreement with nearby property owners to grant the Industrial Development Board a right of way to reach Manchester Highway. More than two years later, those right of ways are still not finalized and that has become an issue for some IDB members.

Another issue is that TDOT has provided a preliminary map of how it would like to provide road access the property. The route TDOT has proposed is twisting and curving and it goes through the town of Morrison. It does not go directly from the property to Manchester Highway.

TDOT estimates the cost of the road to be anywhere from $6 million to $11 million.

All this had some IDB members questioning whether the IDB should sell the land during Thursday’s monthly meeting. It was also mentioned that the land is raw and not close to any utilities. Getting water and electric to the remote spot will be costly, it was noted.

“The question we have to ask is how much is the infrastructure going to cost?” asked IDB member Jenny Nafrada. “We have all this money that is sunk into a property that is landlocked. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to sell it while land is high?”

IDB member Brent McCay echoed those comments, saying the IDB has already made money off the property by selling timber that was on it.

“We’ve made money on the timber and we’ll make money on selling the property,” said McCay. “It’s not like we’ll lose anything if we decide to move on.”

The IDB paid $4,500 an acre for the property, which was viewed as a good price then and it’s seen as an extremely good price now.

IDB executive director Don Alexander reminded the board that the land purchase was a long-term project. He said on Friday he believes keeping the land is the best bet.

“I still believe it’s a good site. We just have one issue to work out,” said Alexander referring to the road. “It’s hard to find good sites and there’s never a perfect site. The fact that we have rail nearby makes it a real gem. Rail provides another incentive for a company to choose our community and in today’s competitive market, you need every incentive you can get.”

A 200-acre site is in the process of being put up for auction in Morrison. That land is located behind Dollar General and is not far from Morrison School.

IDB members expressed interest in purchasing that property because it is close to Manchester Highway and nearby utilities. It was said infrastructure costs would be much less at that site.

“I like the idea of having 200 acres right there on the four-lane,” said IDB member Ryan Lorance.

IDB chairman Trevor Galligan added. “I think it’s worth learning more about.” He added he’s not a fan of the access road TDOT proposed for the Elam Industrial Site land. “I can’t imagine any company wanting to take that route through town.”

Alexander says he’s not convinced the 200 acres that will be auctioned in Morrison would be appropriate for an industrial site because it’s so close to Morrison School.

“To me that’s not being a good neighbor,” said Don. “Would you want a big industry to locate right next to your child’s school?”

No decision was made on selling the Elam Industrial Site property. Alexander said he will continue talks with TDOT about the best way to access the land.