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Judge ratifies tax relief agreement for Kroger Marketplace
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A judge has ratified an agreement between the local development authority and Kroger that will give the company some tax relief and guarantees the grocer will build a new flagship Marketplace store on Ga. 400 in Dawson County.

Northeastern Judicial Juvenile Court Judge Allison Toller validated the agreement Tuesday morning, following a brief presentation by Attorney Kevin Brown, who represents the Development Authority of Dawson County.

The authority has agreed to provide private bonds for title in the amount of $23 million at Kroger's request, which means the actual property will be owned by the authority and exempt from property taxes.

Charlie Auvermann, the authority's executive director, described the transaction as payments in lieu of taxes.

"It's not really a tax abatement. The county will be getting those payments and the school system will be getting the payments through us as opposed to through Kroger," he said.

The authority's board, Auvermann said, felt a full tax exemption would not be in the best interest of the county.

Kroger announced earlier this year plans to relocate the Dawsonville store to the new retail development going in at the southwest corner of Ga. 400 and Dawson Forest Road.

"The real implication here is that we're going to have a very important, very significant anchor store for a shopping center to carry the tax revenue for county citizens for the next decade or longer," he said.

Auvermann said the grocer was also considering a number of location options, "all of which would have meant that they would no longer have a store in Dawson County."

According to Auvermann's projections, the county can expect to see in excess of $450,000 annually in additional tax income from the new larger, Kroger store.

"It will help continue for the county and the school system to provide services to education at the levels the citizens of this county have come to expect."

In addition to the Kroger Marketplace, Hobby Lobby and PetCo. have already signed on to open stores in the shopping center.

"I would expect over the next three months that we'll have a lot more announcements," he said. "We're extremely pleased this is coming, and I think the citizens will find, after the construction hassles are all over with, this will be a very nice, very important place for people to shop and enjoy restaurants and that it will be a very significant project for this county."

Brown said there were no objections or motions to intervene filed in the matter.

There were, however, nearly a dozen representatives with the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and development authority present in support of the proposal.

"We are excited for the positive economic impact that the new development will have on our community," said Christie Haynes, chamber president. "Our citizens greatly benefit from [sales tax] and this new development will bring an increase in those revenues."