The Cherokee Resource Recovery Development Authority held a called meeting Friday afternoon to consider an offer from Sugar Hill-based Cowart Mulch Products for the property formerly run by Jimmy Bobo, but no decision was made to accept or deny the proposal.
RRDA Chairman Jeff Duncan said board member John Konop and County Manager Jerry Cooper would be working together on some of the points of the agreement before a decision would be reached. The RRDA must recommend approval or denial to the Board of Commissioners, which would make the final call.
After the meeting Friday, which included nearly two hours of a closed, private session, Cooper said he didn’t feel comfortable commenting on any of the terms of the proposal, or even confirming who made it.
Konop, however, said Cowart Mulch had made the offer and that it would not fully cover Cherokee County’s loss in the controversial deal with Bobo to relocate his now-defunct operation to its final site on Highway 5.
The Board of Commissioners created the RRDA, originally populated by the five county commissioners, in 2006 to guarantee debt on $18 million in bonds to move Bobo’s business from its former site on Blalock Road. In 2012, taxpayers got stuck with the bill for $100,000 a month in payments after the company shut down.
Konop said the RRDA received information from county attorneys during the closed session raising issues about who has the authority to obligate the bonds.
Cowart Mulch owner Chris Cowart also declined to go into detail about the proposal for fear of breaking a confidentiality agreement. He did say, though, his company made another offer to the county about a year ago, which wasn’t accepted. Then, the county called back recently.
Cowart added his company, which has about 120 employees, has another piece of property less than a mile from the Ball Ground site that it has been considering expanding.
During the executive session, members of the RRDA met with Cooper, Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Commissioner Harry Johnston, an original member of the RRDA.
During a brief open meeting after the closed session, Duncan said he wanted to be clear that the sitting members of the board, which is now populated by residents, would not let an agreement like the initial one with Bobo be approved again.
He characterized that initial brief, two-page document for its “vagueness,” and its “potential impact on the county.”
Konop called the initial agreement “ridiculous.”
A later, more detailed agreement was signed by those involved, though Duncan said based on the initial agreement, it was not a surprise how the deal later ended.