The board unanimously backed a special-use permit that allows Joe and Dani Silva to host a variety of special events at the former Lindale Mill they own. At the same time, they rejected plans for a three-acre mini-warehouse complex next to the Piggly Wiggly on Maple Road.
"That's a huge facility," Commissioner Scotty Hancock said about the Tallapoosa-based RBG Rentals plan. "This is not helping us with what we want to do at all."
The Maple Road property is zoned for community commercial development, but RBG owner Randy Gentry would have needed a special-use permit to put in the storage units. Gentry said he planned to put an 8-foot chain link fence around the tract and "we hope to get a buffer between the houses" on two sides of the tract.
He answered Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace's concern about arrays of bright lights disrupting the area by saying the facility wouldn't be open at night so there are no plans to install them. However, County Manager Jamie McCord and Police Chief Mark Wallace had noted during a caucus discussion that there's a rise in crimes at self-storage units.
"We've had 30 break-ins around storage buildings in Floyd County in the last 12 months," McCord said.
Sunset Drive resident Ken Patty told the board the neighborhood is already battling a crime problem and Ken Pence weighed in with concerns about the impact of the large complex.
"This doesn't look, aesthetically, to be the thing we need to see when you drive down the road," Pence said. "Especially with Restoration Lindale and other organizations trying to clean up the community."
The nonprofit Restoration Lindale is a volunteer group established by Tim Reynolds, whose efforts to rehabilitate the old mill village and preserve its heritage has netted buy-ins from the county. Among them is support for redeveloping the Lindale Mill as a destination spot — codified in the 2018 draft Comprehensive Plan update.
"The mill building has sat abandoned since its closure (in 2001), providing an interesting opportunity to revitalize the community," the plan states.
The Silvas have leased their 21-acre property for short-term activities such as movie and TV filming. It's also become the home base for community activities including the Pepperell High School homecoming bonfire and the Christmas lighting of the Lindale Star.
With the special-use permit, they plan to bring in events such as farmers markets, craft fairs and small concerts. Dani Silva said they're also working with the Rome Floyd Chamber on the possibility of a brewery and want to remodel the three-story main building for a cafe and shops.
Joe Silva said the couple wants to be part of the community's renaissance movement.
"We bought the mill about eight years ago with the intention of doing what everybody else was going to do: Tear it down, harvest the material and head back to the West Coast," Dani Silva told the board. "We now call this place home."
The state rejected an application for an $800,000 grant to revitalize Lindale as "too broad," so the County Commission has been taking a more targeted approach.
The public works department has hosted community clean-up days and is working on plans for a rail viewing station to attract tourists. It's tied to a $1.1 million earmark in the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax package to extend the Silver Creek Trail to Lindale. Sidewalk improvements also have been funded through a $1.4 million earmark in the 2013 SPLOST.