A portion of the Highway 92 corridor near the intersection of James Dupree Road has been approved by the state Department of Community Affairs as an "opportunity zone," though the county was hoping for more help from the state.
An opportunity zone is a development tool created in 2004 that allows local governments to provide tax incentives for economic development and revitalization of pockets of poverty.
Benefits include eligibility for state and federal job tax credits of as much as $7,000 per new job, the use of job tax credits against 100 percent of income tax liability and withholding taxes and the expansion of the definition of business enterprise to include all businesses of any kind.
Jeff Watkins, planning director for the county government, said the county's application was for a larger region: all of the property on the south side of Highway 92 from Interstate 75 to Woodstock Road and the adjacent properties on the north side.
"We are disappointed because it is much smaller than what we anticipated," he said of the zone, noting officials still are appreciative of what was granted. "We certainly want to take advantage of what we've been given."
He said the county staff plans to investigate how to appeal the decision or apply for the larger area to be reconsidered.
Commissioner Karen Bosch, who represents the area covered in the opportunity zone, said she was disappointed the county did not get all it asked for, but is glad to have something to offer businesses.
"Between reducing the impact fees and looking for incentives like the opportunity zone, there is no doubt that it should spur some development," she said.
Earlier this year, the board approved reducing impact fees across all categories to 10 percent of the total impact fee. The fees are charged to all new development in unincorporated Cherokee to offset its impact on infrastructure like roads, public safety, parks and libraries.
"I would like to expand it to that whole section," she said. "Hopefully, we can appeal."
Eventually, she said she would like to see the opportunity zone expanded to cover the whole stretch of Highway 92 from I-75 to Woodstock Road and eventually to the Bells Ferry Road Livable Centers Initiative study area.
That area extends from the Cherokee and Cobb county line on Bells Ferry Road to its intersection with Kellogg Creek Road. It also covers Highway 92 from Santa Fe Trail to Woodland Drive.