CHIPLEY — The Washington County Planning Commission approved the proposed changes to the Enterprise Zones of Ebro and Vernon on Tuesday during the panel’s regular December meeting.
“The Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council are interested in seeing amendments to the existing Enterprise Zones,” said
Senior Planner Mike DeRuntz.
An Enterprise Zone is a state-created area for industrial or commercial development that offers incentives to businesses in order to create jobs. Those incentives include jobs creation tax credits, electrical energy tax credits, sales tax refunds for jobs creation and building materials, property tax credits for jobs creation and sales tax refunds for business equipment and machinery.
Last year the state Legislature passed a new law allowing counties to expand their Enterprise Zones, and Washington County will be allowed to expand its areas by three miles, which Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ted Everett divided the three miles allocated to the county between Ebro and Vernon.
New Enterprise Zone maps were designed and approved with input from the two cities’ council members. Parts of the zones include county property, however, so the county also has to approve the changes.
DeRuntz said that while the changes to the Enterprise Zones do not change the designated zoning of the properties, the incentive of the zone could one day attract development to the two communities, especially after the state Department of Transportation’s four-laning project on Highway 79 is completed.
“Vernon is looking at making a river-walk area with a possible mix of commercial residential,” DeRuntz said. “This could make it a more thriving community.”
The commissioners also approved a Land Use Change Request for G.M. Hobbs of Vernon, who wants to change a property’s zoning from public/semi-public to general commercial.
The change will incorporated the property at 3319 Court Ave. in Vernon into Hobbs’ three adjoining properties that front on Highway 79 and which already have a general commercial designation, DeRuntz said.
The Vernon City Council approved the request for the zoning change, Hobbs said.
“We don’t have anything planned for the property right now, but we are looking three or four years down the road, after the DOT finishes Highway 79,” Hobbs said.