City of Lanett assumes ownership of mill site

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

LANETT — Monday was a busy day on the Lanett Mill site as a front end loader and some excavators were in operation moving material off the site. It was the final day of ownership of the 27-acre site by Roy Granger, who had it for more than a decade. During that time, the massive Lanett Mill and the Lanett Bleachery and Dye Works buildings were torn down, and anything of value was sold. There’s a great deal of debris left on the site. It’s now up to the new owner, the City of Lanett, to do something about it.

“We’ll get started on it next week,” said Mayor Kyle McCoy. “We will be making a final assessment of what needs to be done. We didn’t want to get into Roy’s way while he still had time to get anything he wanted from the site.”

McCoy didn’t set a timetable on the final cleanup, but does think people will see a major difference in the next year.

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“I think that when May 2020 rolls around we will see some major progress.”

At a press conference across from the mill site on Tuesday, April 30, the mayor announced that the property was being purchased from Regeneration LLC for $530,000. The city has entered a loan agreement with the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA). It’s a zero percent loan, and the city has four years to pay it back.

At that time, Granger was given 45 days to remove anything he wanted from the site.

Since its closure in 2006, the abandoned Lanett Mill site has been seen as an eyesore. That perception worsened during the demolition process when the site became filled with debris piles and tree growth. Many longtime Lanett residents never knew that a small stream had been running underneath the mill though a concrete culvert toward the Chattahoochee River. That stream is now returning to nature with willow trees growing alongside it.

The city is partnering with the Chambers County Development Authority to redevelop the site as a commercial or light industry zone. Its location off heavily-traveled Highway 29 would appear to give it good prospects for such development. It’s less than a mile from Exit 79 on I-85 and closer than that to the junction of Highway 50.

“I am very optimistic that somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of what’s there now will be gone by this time next year,” CCDA Director Valerie Gray said at the April 30 press conference. “I know this has been hard on the mayor and council. People are always asking them about what they were going to do about the mill site.”

McCoy said that all options are on the table. City employees and equipment could be used and contractors hired.

On Tuesday, men from the cemetery and grounds department were on the site cutting grass as Granger’s equipment was being removed on flatbed trailers.

The city will likely be seeking Brownfields funding to help with the cleanup. In addition to the cleanup, this funding would help with assessments, revolving loans, environmental job training, technical assistance, training and research. EPA’s Brownfields Program collaborates with other EPA programs, other federal partners and site agencies to identify and make available resources that can be used in Brownfields activities.