Jennifer Payne-Simpkins

Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins discusses a new development coming to U.S. Highway 41 near Scruggs Road. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

Fort Oglethorpe officials have approved an agreement with an unknown developer for a project along U.S. Highway 41 near Scruggs Road.

During the City Council meeting on Feb. 26, Fort Oglethorpe City Manger Jennifer Payne-Simpkins provided a rundown of the development without giving away too many specifics about what the new property will look like.

"Over the past couple of months, the city has been approached by a developer of what we're calling the 'Highway 41 Project', that will increase the property value of that particular area by $10 million, and will also create over 100 full-time and part-time jobs," Payne-Simpkins said.

While neither the identity of the developer nor the names of potential businesses were revealed, Payne-Simpkins did say that part of the plan includes some infrastructure work on the part of the city.

"The developer approached the city originally and asked for some assistance with infrastructure," Payne-Simpkins said. "Currently, we do not have sanitary sewer service to this area at Highway 41 and Scruggs Road. So they're initial request was assistance with sanitary sewer and also construction of an access road that will connect Scruggs Road to the northwest corner of the property. And then the third component was a signal light intersection at South Sanctuary Road and Highway 41."

As discussions have progressed, the Catoosa County Economic Development (EDA) has also gotten involved to help secure the project.

"So the city worked with the developer and approached the EDA, and the EDA has been a tremendous help in the process and has agreed to split the cost of the access road and the signal light intersection with the city so that this project is affordable and feasible for all parties involved," Payne-Simpkins said."

In addition to teamwork with the EDA, Payne-Simpkins said the current owners of the property have agreed to doing site prep work, grading, and have even donated easements and right-of-way for different components of the project agreement.

"We believe it is a strong agreement," Payne-Simpkins said. "The development agreement holds the developer responsible for reimbursing the city and the EDA for expenses related to the access road and the signal intersection if the developer elects to abandon and not construct and develop the project."

Per the agreement, the developer will also be held responsible in the event the annual retail sales, jobs created, or estimated tax revenues are substantially lower than those represented by the developer to the city and the EDA as an inducement to enter into the agreement, or if the construction and development of the project is not completed within one year of the date of commencement of construction activities.

Payne-Simpkins says she's been told by the developer that that project will completed ahead of schedule.

"We're projecting about April 2019, although the developer believes the project will be complete long before then," she said.

The City Council unanimously approved the agreement, which had been thoroughly reviewed by all parties.

"We've had a great conversation with the developer, the EDA, and the Browns (property owner)," Payne-Simpkins said. "All parties involved have worked together on this agreement, and all attorneys have had their say on what needs to stay or go. It's a great economic development opportunity."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at