Superior Recreational Products has moved its employees into the former Big Lots building on Bankhead Highway where they resumed work Friday.

The city of Carrollton on Thursday night approved a special use permit for the business following a fire that leveled its building earlier this month.

The company's facility on Columbia Drive was engulfed in flames July 5 and the building was a total loss, according to Carrollton Fire Department Investigator Allen English. Further investigation a few weeks later came to the conclusion a 30-year-old overhead fan heated up, causing nearby products to catch fire. Two employees were present at the time of the fire but escaped when the fire broke out.

City Council members voted Thursday night to approve the special use permit brought to the city’s Planning Commission by Superior International Industries to use the former Big Lots building at 1111 Bankhead Highway near Lake Carroll.

The Planning Commission and City Council amended the zoning designation of C-2 Commercial to include industrial use in order to allow temporary manufacturing of shades and shelters for parks and recreational use for up to 24 months, according to City Attorney Chuck Conerly.

A resolution was adopted to allow the mayor and council to issue special use permits to allow light manufacturing in C-1, C-2 and C-3 zoning districts only to existing businesses and only in emergency situations that require a business to temporarily relocate.

The resolution also stated excessive noise, odor, smoke or dust is prohibited so as to not disturb neighboring businesses.

This change called for an amendment to the table of land uses of the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to establish Section 2.04.26 titled “Light Manufacturing in Commercial Zoning” of the UDO.

City Councilman Rory Wojcik praised city staff for working with Superior to help it relocate to a building in Carrollton and keeping the jobs within the city.

“I had seen that there was some talk about possibly moving to Villa Rica, and I want to say thank you, but what we want to do is keep Superior here,” Wojcik said. “It’s a wonderful company and we want to keep those jobs here.”

Jonathan Hardesty, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing with Superior Recreational Products, attended the meeting Thursday night and said the community has “responded immensely” following the fire at the beginning of the month.

“We’ve been overwhelmed at times about the response of the community,” he said. “It was everywhere from the local residents raising money to the people they thought would be unemployed -- no one is unemployed -- to the Chamber of Commerce and Daniel [Jackson, president of the chamber] responding very promptly to local and state agencies to the City Council responding and calling this special meeting. We want to keep the jobs here in Carrollton and they just helped us do that.”

Following the fire, Hardesty said the business has moved into several locations across Carrollton. The cut and sew department will be occupying the Bankhead Highway building.

“We’ve started shipping products and it’s our intention to rebuild here in Carrollton within the next year and move all those employees into the location that was destroyed by the fire on July 5 and continue to creating jobs and moving the workforce into Carrollton,” he said. “It’s a wonderful workforce here.”

Hardesty said the workforce consists of 300 employees, 200 of whom are in Carrollton and the rest in Oklahoma. During the transition period, the employees were able to take classes at West Georgia Tech to sharpen their skills.

“They have been doing jobs outside of their job description, but they have been phenomenal and if you got the chance to meet any of them I’m sure they would tell you spirits are high,” he said. “Everyone is re-engaged in working again.”

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