Catoosa County commissioner Bobby Winters wants to halt construction of Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s satellite campus on Cloud Springs Road in Catoosa.
Winters said much of the site — at the intersection of Dietz and Cloud Springs roads — is in a flood plain, which is an area prone to flooding.
“Whenever you build on a flood plain,” Winters said, “the water has to go somewhere, and Mitchell Acres is across from the site.”
Winters is seeking a stop-work order on construction.
He said that because the location of the site is in his district, he is obligated to protect the people in his district from potential flooding. He said the Mitchell Acres subdivision is already prone to flooding.
He said a private business or industry would not be able to build on the site because it is built on a flood plain.
“It’s like we’ve got two sets of standards,” Winters said.
County Board of Commissioners chairman Keith Greene said that isn’t the case. He said this is the first time Winters opposed the college being built at the Dietz Road site.
In April, the county voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent with Georgia Northwestern to build a cam-pus on the site.
The letter included the county donating the tract of land to Georgia Northwestern and required the college to have a site study performed and to obtain any required permits.
“I want people to understand that we’re not doing anything with this property that is illegal,” Greene said.
State Republican Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga said he was “surprised” by the news of Winters pursuing the stop-work order.
“Georgia Northwestern has strongly considered Catoosa as its next location for a campus,” Mullis said. “When commissioners make these types of comments, the state can see a problem.”
The state of Georgia has invested $3 million into the project. Mullis and state Republican Rep. Jay Neal hope to acquire bonds from the Georgia General Assembly to further fund the project
Greene said there is no reason for Winters to pursue the stop-work order because no work has yet to be done on the site. He said although some of the 37-acre site is in a flood plain, the campus is expected to be 65,000 square feet.
“The campus won’t take up the entire site,” Greene said.
Asked about pursuing a campus at another location, Winters said he had been pushing for more than five years to get a college on the Benton Place campus off Battlefield Parkway.
“I would love to see a college (on the Benton Place campus),” Winters said. “It would cost less and it wouldn’t be built on a swamp.”
Winters said it would be costly to clear, pave and bring a sewerage system to the Dietz Road site. He said Geor-gia Northwestern could build behind The Colonnade, which is on the Benton Place campus, for a lower cost to the county.
He said a multi-level building could accommodate the college’s need for space — a reason for the college to be built on the Dietz Road site.
“We could work something out,” Winters said.
Craig McDaniel, president of Georgia Northwestern, will not comment on the issue until the first of the year.
Walker County Messenger