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Rome City Commissioners are slated to get a briefing tonight on state plans to make local communities more attractive to high-speed internet providers.

Representatives from the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission are expected to present information at the board's caucus about how to apply for designation as a Broadband Ready Community. Requirements include amending the comprehensive plan to include promotion of broadband and adopting an ordinance establishing a permitting process.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law last month a series of bills aimed at opening up the market. Telephone cooperatives and electric membership corporations – including North Georgia EMC – are now allowed to sell internet services.

Also, telecomm companies are able to count on a standardized state-regulated process for permits to install small-cell 5G wireless transmitters. The legislation contains protections for historic districts and residential areas and requires local aesthetic standards to be met.

The City Commission caucuses at 5 p.m. in the Sam King Room of City Hall, 601 Broad St., followed by its 6:30 p.m. regular meeting on the second floor. Both sessions are public.

First on the agenda for the regular meeting is a proclamation naming this Law Enforcement Memorial Week in recognition of peace officers who died in the line of duty.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Joint Law Enforcement Building on West Fifth Avenue to honor the 20 local officers on the list.

Commissioners also are expected to finalize the creation of a tax allocation district on the old Kmart site on Hicks Drive. The move clears the way for Ledbetter Properties to redevelop the land as East Bend retail center.

Plans call for demolishing the Kmart facility, which has been vacant for nearly three years, and bringing in a mix of retail and restaurants to occupy four new buildings on the site.

"(T)he build out of this relatively small part of Rome's important Highway 27 Commercial Corridor could help stabilize one of the region's largest retail districts ... An estimated $27 million in net new retail sales will occur at the new center annually, generating an increase of $812,500 in annual sales tax collections," the redevelopment plan states.

An April 22 public hearing netted no opposition. Developer Wright Ledbetter said there would be 20 to 28 businesses, most of them new to Rome, and work is scheduled to get underway this summer.