Future of the Development Authority will be discussed at Thursday’s commissioners meeting

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Key issues the Dawson County Board of Commissioners will discuss during the first meeting of the new year include funding for the Development Authority of Dawson County (DADC), a new impact fee methodology report and 2018 qualifying fees for elected officials.

The work session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday in the Dawson County Government Center Assembly Room.

The Development Authority annual budget was eliminated for 2017 and 2018. However, DADC Chairwoman Sherry Weeks made a presentation to commissioners at a special called meeting last month requesting that operating expenses be approved in the amount of $175,000. The annual budget had been $150,000.00, but Weeks is requesting an additional $25,000 to fund a move from its Prominence Court location into the Chamber of Commerce facility.

Bill Ross, of Ross & Associates, gave a presentation of a final draft of a proposed Impact Fee Report in December. The report addressed appropriate levels for impact fees to be charged under an updated Impact Fee Program. The report was tabled last month but will come back before the board Thursday.

The county’s contract for uniforms for the Fire Department and Emergency Management expires in December. Fire Chief/EMA Director Lanier Swafford will ask the board to approve a new contract with NAFECO, the most responsive and responsible bidder. The average annual uniform procurement cost has been $52,274.92. Uniforms are purchased only on an as-needed basis. The contract, if approved, would be for one year with two renewal options.

 

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Sheriff’s lawsuit against the county heads to court

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County Manager David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The dispute between Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson and the Board of Commissioners over the 2018 budget will move to Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop’s courtroom Friday, Jan. 12, at 9:30 a.m.

On Dec. 18, Bishop ordered county commissioners to appear before him to show cause why Johnson’s petition for mandamus “should not be issued as requested and such other relief be granted as the facts of the case may warrant.”

Johnson filed the petition for mandamus claiming the $8,273,080 budget approved by the commissioners for 2018 is inadequate for him to perform the duties of his office. Johnson requested his budget be set at $8,961,406.

Commissioners argue the budget represents a one-year increase of close to $1 million and is the largest increase awarded to any county office in 2018.

In fact, figures released by the county show that the sheriff’s office budget has increased by $2.3 million since 2014. County Manager David Headley said the sheriff’s budget grew by $525,381 in 2015, $348,648 in 2016, $457,632 in 2017 and $985,277 in 2018.

Moreover, a Georgia Department of Community Affairs survey reveals that Dawson County citizens pay more per capita to operate the sheriff’s office and jail than any other county in north Georgia. The survey of 26 counties shows Dawson County citizens pay $273 each, followed by Rabun County where citizens pay $210.

Several county officials have complained the sheriff wastes taxpayer dollars by not following the county’s purchasing policy of awarding bids to the lowest, most competent and qualified bidder.

Headley said the county has repeatedly reached out to the sheriff to offer assistance in matters such as human resources, finance and purchasing, and grants and maintenance.

“We have a well-trained staff and policies in place, which can help with compliance with the law and doing things in the most efficient and economical way,” Headley said. “Our offers have frequently been ignored or declined.”

 

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Commissioners agree to endorse Big Canoe Water Authority

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to endorse a draft resolution requested by the Big Canoe Property Owners Association to support the creation of a Big Canoe Water Authority. The resolution must be presented to state lawmakers during the 2018 General Assembly for final approval.

The current owner has announced its intention to sell the system. Phil Anderson, president of the property owners association, told commissioners during the December work session, it is in the long-term interest of Big Canoe residents for those assets to be acquired by a public water and sewer authority that would be eligible for grants and loans and have the ability to issue tax-free revenue bonds. The existing water distribution system is old and in need of major capital improvements.

In November, commissioners approved the purchase of a new fire engine from Ten 8 Fire and Emergency Services at a cost of $449,442. The board also approved a BB&T bid to finance the transaction at a rate of 2.44 percent for seven years. However, BB&T announced it could no longer honor that rate and withdrew its bid. When the project went out for bids again, BB&T was again the most competitive bidder, but this time at a rate of 2.91 percent with annual payments of $71,893.81 and a total interest amount of $53,814.67. Commissioners unanimously approved the latest BB&T bid.

During the 2017 General Assembly, the state legislature passed a regulation requiring counties to provide certain cancer benefits to county firefighters. Thursday, commissioners approved the purchase of a Lump Sum Cancer and Long-Term Disability policy for firefighters to comply with the state requirement. The policy was awarded to ACCG –IRMA through The Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company at a cost of $18,497.

Commissioners tabled a decision on the Impact Fee Methodology Report. The request to rezone 2.04 acres along Kilough Church Road for a proposed classic car sales and warehouse business was withdrawn.

 

 

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Planning Commission unanimously recommends denial of Dawson Forest Holdings variance

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Nearly one year after the Dawson County Board of Commissioners turned thumbs down on Dawson Forest Holdings plans to build 177 single-family homes and 95 townhomes near Hwy. 53 and Elliott Road, the plan resurfaced at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

It turned out to be no more popular in 2017 than it was in 2016. Dozens of area residents braved evening thunderstorms to attend the meeting and many stood up to voice their opposition to the plan. When the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial on two separate applications for a variance, the opponents applauded the commission’s decision.

Attorney Joshua Scoggins, who represents Dawson Forest Holdings, said there had been some “legal deficiencies” with the application last year and that a Superior Court judge had remanded it back to the county so those could be corrected. “That’s the reason we are coming back before you,” he said.

There were two variances applications. The first called for 15.828 acres to be rezoned from residential agriculture (RA) to residential multi-family (RMF) to build a 95-unit townhome community. The second requested that 59.497 acres be rezoned from RA to RMF to build 177 single-family homes.

Hugh Stowers speaks in opposition to Dawson Forest Holding development.

Hugh Stowers asked who will pay for the added services the development will require. “Who will pay for the added cost of law enforcement?” he asked. “Dawson County has increased the Sheriff’s Office budget more than any other department, and I’m sure you know the closer you put people together, the more crime there is.  This will reduce our quality of life and drive our property taxes higher than we have ever dreamed.”

Tony Passarello voiced concerns about the added traffic along Hwy. 53, a major artery between Dawson and Hall counties.

“To put this all in perspective, by 2020, the area buildup will include a 2 to 9 percent increase in peak traffic load along Hwy. 53,” he said. “We will have the addition of 300 apartments being built behind Dawson Forest Publix and the development of a 67-acre tract along Dawson Forest Road these same developers had already sold. The fully-opened Publix Shopping Center and Kroger Shopping Center would, of course, put more pressure on the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Dawson Forest Road.”

Passarello added that approval of the variance would create a density that will “have a serious effect on the safety of existing and future property owners in the area.

The proposal now goes to the Board of Commissioners for a final decision.

 

 

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Controversial rezoning resurfaces after 2016 denial

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Planning Commission meeting set for 6 p.m. Tuesday on second floor of the Dawson County Government Center.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A controversial rezoning request denied by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners one year ago, almost to the day, is back on the planning commission agenda Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held on the second floor of the Dawson County Government Center.

Bill Evans, of Dawson Forest Holdings, has submitted two applications. One would allow him to build 95 townhomes on property located at 20 Hughes Court and the other to build 177 1,200-square foot, single-family houses on property located on Hwy. 53, adjacent to Fire Station No. 2 and the Tractor Supply Co.

Area homeowners, who joined forces to oppose the influx of new housing last year, attended county commission and planning commission meetings and submitted a petition signed by more than 400 area residents in opposition of the applications.

On Dec. 13, 2016, commissioners unanimously denied the application stating the developer’s plans did not align with the future land use plan for the area.

In January, Evans sued the county, the board of commissioners and each commissioner individually for denying the applications, stating the commission’s refusal to rezone the parcels from residential agricultural to residential multi-family violated his constitutionally protected right to use his property for any lawful purpose.

Tony Passarello, an Elliott Road resident, sent an email last week urging residents to attend Tuesday’s planning commission meeting.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in NOn.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

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BOC to discuss support for creation of the Big Canoe Water and Sewer Authority in work session

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners will discuss taking the first step toward creation of a new water authority when it meets in a work session Thursday at 4 p.m. in the County Administration Building.

Phil Anderson, president of the Big Canoe Property Owners Association, will ask commissioners to endorse draft legislation to send to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston for him to sponsor during the 2018 Georgia Legislative Session that would create the Big Canoe Water and Sewer Authority.

The Big Canoe Water and Sewer Authority Act would create a five-member, unpaid governing authority that will serve until 2020 when users of the system may elect new representatives.

Anderson will also ask the Pickens County Board of Commissioners to endorse the draft legislation since Big Canoe is a private, gated community of approximately 8,000 acres located in Pickens and Dawson counties.

Bill Ross, of Ross & Associates, will present an Impact Fee Methodology Report Final Draft for commissioners to consider. The report projects that Dawson County’s population will nearly triple by 2040.

Under state law, counties can collect money from new development based on that development’s fair share of the cost to provide the facilities it needs.

Other issues to be discussed include:

  • Non-profit food service permits for temporary events;
  • Presentation of a cancellation notice of fire engine approved funding and request for use of another vendor;
  • Presentation of firefighter cancer and disability insurance options;
  • Presentation of construction services for Veterans Memorial Park Pool House;
  • Presentation of stand-by road striping services;
  • Presentation of banking services award; and
  • Board re-appointment of Sam Gutherie to the Board of Assessors.

Issues discussed by commissioners during a work session are typically voted on during the next regular meeting.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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County employees enjoy Thanksgiving luncheon

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Publix Customer Service Manager Nicholas Kirkland, Dawson County Manager David Headley and Publix Assistant Meat Manager Jim Ferrante with the 10 turkeys and two hams the supermarket provided Dawson County at a discount.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County employees do their best to serve the citizens of Dawson County, so County Manager David Headley and the county commissioners decided it was high time they returned the favor.

Headley, Chairman Billy Thurmond and commissioners Jimmy Hamby, Julie Nix, Chris Gaines and Sharon Fausett purchased the turkey and ham and served a Thanksgiving potluck luncheon at Veterans Memorial Park.

Employees could either sit down for their meal or take it to go. An estimated 125 county workers participated.

“Our employees are our most important asset, and this was just one way we are able to show our appreciation,” Headley said. “We also thank our employees for providing the many delicious side dishes, desserts and other items that helped make our gathering a success. We wish our employees and their families, and all of our Dawson County citizens, a happy Thanksgiving.”

Thurmond added, “I want to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication to the citizens of Dawson County. I also want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.”

Publix in Dawsonville partnered with the county to provide 10 turkeys and two hams at a discounted price.

“We would like to thank our friends at Publix for the delicious meat; those who prepared it, Ricky Rexroat of Emergency Services and David McKee of Public Works; and Commissioners Billy Thurmond, Sharon Fausett, Chris Gaines and Julie Hughes Nix for taking time to help serve the meal,” Headley said.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Dawson BOC meets in rare Tuesday work session

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners will consider a lengthy list of agenda items during a rare Tuesday (Nov. 21) work session that begins at 4 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room. Board meetings are usually held on Thursdays, but this meeting was moved because this Thursday is Thanksgiving

Dawson County Commissioners have a busy agenda on tap  for Tuesday’s work session.

Board appointments for 2018, grant applications, an intergovernmental agreement for municipal elections with the city of Dawsonville and several funding requests will command much of the commissioners’ time.

Commissioners will consider the reappointment of Ricky Rexroat and Lanier Swafford to the EMS Advisory Council Board, Dr. Larry Anderson and Elaine Maple to the Health Board and Chad Cofield to the Parks and Recreation Board.

Judge Lindsay Burton will ask commissioners to consider additional funds for the Juvenile Court, and Public Works Director David McKee will request funding for the Lumpkin Campground Concept Improvement Plan.

Grant applications to be considered Tuesday include a FM Global Insurance Company Fire Prevention Grant Application, a Georgia Forestry Commission 50/50 Grant Application, a Department of Public Health Occupation Safety Seat Grant and an ACCG Summer Georgia Counties Internship Program (GCIP) Grant application.

Planning and Development Director Jason Streetman will present a Special Event Alcohol Permit Application by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce for a Business After Hours at United Community Bank on Dec. 14.

McKee will also present a request to abandon the portion of Powell Rd. between Amicalola Church Rd. and Colly Lane.

These agenda items are expected to be voted on at the next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

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