Crystal Falls development on Thursday BOC agenda

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Commissioners are expected to vote on a rezoning request that would permit construction of the 1,038-home Crystal Falls Lake and Golf Community when they meet Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room, 25 Justice Way.

Dawson Cherokee Capital LLC, has requested rezoning 1,038.46 acres in the southwest corner of the county from Residential Sub Rural to Residential Planned Community for the development that would include a golf course, club hours, olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts and walking trails and a wastewater treatment facility to be maintained by Etowah Water and Sewer Authority.

The property is located west of Cowart Road between Yellow Creek Road and Kelly Bridge Road. Build out is expected to take 10 years with five phases being developed every two years.

A large and vocal group of stakeholders attended the Planning Commission meeting to express opposition to the development and another packed room can be expected to attend Thursday’s meeting. The Planning Commission recommended commissioners deny the rezoning request.

 

Commissioners will also consider:

  • A rezoning request by Jerry Fouts for the construction of a mini storage facility with 48 units;
  • An amendment to a portion of the Impact Fee Ordinance;
  • A request to Apply for Fireworks Tax Grant;
  • A resolution regarding defunding of In-House Legal Department Expenses for Westlaw Services.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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 will register opposition to two bills in General Assembly that would ban local government regulation of building standards

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners will join a growing number of local governments all across Georgia in opposing two bills now being considered in the General Assembly that prohibits them from regulating design standards on one- and two-family homes in their communities.

The Board will vote on a resolution opposing Georgia House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 during Thursday’s voting session which starts at 6 p.m. in the Government Center Assembly Room.

The bills are being promoted by developers and homebuilders. But opponents like Larry Hanson of the Georgia Municipal Association say the bills strip local residents of the right to govern themselves.

Commissioners are also expected to vote on acceptance of several grants, including Violence Against Women Act Grant, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council K9 Grant, Council of Accountability Court Judges / Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Enhancement Grant for Dawson County Treatment Court and Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant

In other business, the Board will consider:

  • Awarding a contract for design-build services for Fleet/Public Works complex to Charles Black Construction in the amount of $3,289,777;
  • A request by Emergency Services Director/ Fire Chief Danny Thompson to purchase two fire trucks from Ten-8 Fire and Safety Equipment Co. in the amount of $1,301,038.
  • Approval of mobile device tablets for Emergency Services;
  • Approval of Board of Commissioners’ expenses;
  • Adoption of Capital Improvements Element of the Comprehensive Plan;
  • Annexation request os Dan S. and Vanita Anderson.

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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B0C approves reduction in impact fees and sets public hearing

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — New businesses wanting to move to Dawson County got a major break Thursday when the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to reduce impact fees by a whopping 75 percent. Chairman Billy Thurmond cast the deciding vote.

The issue still must survive public hearings on March 7 and March 21 before being implemented. Both hearings are set for 6 p.m.

It was only six months ago the Board voted to set impact fees at the maximum amount allowed  by law. But the Board dynamic has changed significantly since former Commissioner Jimmy Hamby retired in December and was replaced by Tim Satterfield. Hamby was a strong proponent of impact fees and voted to charge the maximum amount percent.

Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore appeared before commissioners two weeks ago to request the reduction saying two businesses had declined to move to Dawson County because of the fees.

“Our concern was not that the commercial impact fees would hurt the large businesses, the Olive Gardens of the world, they are used to impact fees,” she said at the time. “But it could really hurt some of our attempts to attract some other organizations that we really want in our community.”

Impact fees are payments required by local governments of new development for the purpose of providing new or expanded public capital facilities required to serve that development.

The reduction also impacts residential development. Instead of a 75 percent reduction, residential developments would only be reduced by 25 percent.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett tried to get commissioners to consider a smaller reduction of 50 percent, but Chris Gaines, who made the motion said he felt the 75 percent reduction was the right amount.

“If we see that it hasn’t made an impact like the adverse impact that it’s made now at 100 percent, then we can look at increasing it at a future date,” Gaines said.

Fausett pointed out that Bill Ross of Ross and Associates, the firm that created the impact fee study and calculated the maximum amount the county could charge, told commissioners that impact fees do not slow growth.

“He’s an expert, and he’s done this for years and years and years. So if he made that statement, I wonder why it’s slowing growth here, and it’s not slowing it in other places” Fausett asked.

“We’re in kind of a boom now and I’d like to take advantage of that. Another thing that bothers me is that we as a board, we said we would seek alternate ways of (raising) revenue…if we said we were going to do it, I want to do it.”

Thurmond said that the sales tax money generated by businesses has allowed the county to maintain the same millage rate for the past 14 years.

The vote was 3-2 with Fausett and Nix opposed and Gaines and Satterfield in support. In Dawson County, the chairman is allowed to vote only in case of a tie. The public will have an opportunity to be heard on the issue in two weeks.

In other business, the Board voted 3-1 to censure Nix for disclosing confidential information to a county employee via email. Nix abstained from the vote and Fausett voted in opposition.

An emotional Fausett, who has been friends with Nix her entire life, said the resolution was too harsh and unnecessary. She spoke directly to Nix, saying, “I don’t think you’ll ever do this again, I still trust you, I’ve still got faith in you, I’ve still got confidence in you. You’ve had years and years of public service and I don’t want this to define you. I think you have been a part of great, great things for this county, and I appreciate what you’ve done.”

Nix said she accepted responsibility and publicly apologized for her action saying she had no desire to benefit herself or anyone.

“This was just done really to assist an experienced employee just packed with a knowledge and information, who I felt wasn’t getting all of the information needed to really do her job,” Nix said.

A motion of censure carries with it no penalty other than the written reprimand.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Thurmond will ask commissioners to censure Julie Hughes-Nix

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond will introduce a resolution to censure Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix for a breach of attorney-client privilege and executive session privilege during Thursday’s voting session.

Thurmond claims Nix sent emails to a county employee despite the fact the emails were marked confidential and attorney-client privileged.

The resolution states: “Despite this specific admonition, such communications were forwarded by Commissioner Nix in violation of the attorney-client privilege when such communications were concerning personnel issues about the very employee to whom she forwarded the communications, this employee was represented by an attorney, and this employee was taking positions adverse to Dawson County’s interests.”

Nix told Fetch Your News Tuesday, “I accept responsibility. I did inadvertently release information from executive session. I apologize to my fellow commissioners and, more importantly, to the citizens of Dawson County. I can promise that will never happen again.”

Censures are mainly symbolic. There is no loss of rights or privileges and therefore, a censure carries no more weight than a written reprimand.

The issue that is expected to draw a large crowd, Thursday is a request by Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore that commissioners consider reducing impact fees on road projects and fire protection categories to 25 percent.

During last week’s work session, Moore said impact fees are the reason at least one company declined to open a business in Dawson County.

Moore provided the example of one large fitness center that had planned to build a new facility in the community but backed out when it was learned the impact fee would be $51,000.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett challenged assertion.

“What would have been their tap fee,” she questioned. Moore said she didn’t know. Fausett continues, saying, “But you know it would have been a lot more than that right.”

“It certainly would have been,” Moore said and that is another entity we’ve been advocating with.”

 

Other issues commissioners are also expected to vote on include:

  • A resolution extending the agreement with interim county attorneys Jarrard & Davis;
  • A FY 2019 public defender intergovernmental agreement between Dawson and Hall counties;
  • The FY 2019 state public defender contract;
  • 2019 Charity Boot Drives;
  • Special event business license application for a motorcycle event;
  • Acceptance of a Geographic Information System summer intern grant;
  • A new recycling agreement with Advanced Disposal;
  • A request for Highway 53 / Lumpkin Campground Road Intersection Improvement Project budget;
  • Approval of a legal services agreement to retain Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. as special legal counsel in opioid litigation;
  • A settlement agreement with Hodges-Mace, LLC to resolve a contract claim.

 

A resolution of censure. 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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Chamber of Commerce wants commercial impact fees reduced

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Commissioner Sharon Fausett

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Impact fees dominated much of the discussion at the Dawson County Board of Commissioners work session last week.

Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore made a presentation and requested commissioners consider reducing impact fees on road projects and fire protection categories to 25 percent. Moore said impact fees are the reason at least one company declined to open a business in Dawson County.

“We’re not here to speak about the residential side,” she said. “We’re here to speak to the commercial side of things. We can’t calculate how many businesses we’ve lost (as a result of impact fees). We can only calculate what we have received. So far only $73,000 has been collected from commercial impact fees. Our concern is not the large businesses like the Olive Gardens of the world. They’re used to impact fees. But it really can hurt some of our attempts to attract other organizations that we really want in our community.”

Moore provided the example of one large fitness center that had planned to build a new facility in the community but backed out when it was learned the impact fee would be $51,000.

Commissioner Chris Gaines

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett challenged the notion that the impact fee was the sole reason the company backed out.

“What would have been their tap fee,” she questioned. Moore said she didn’t know. Fausett said, “But you know it would have been a lot more than that right.”

“It certainly would have been,” Moore said and that is another entity we’ve been advocating with.”

“(Impact fees) are nothing compared to that (tap fee),” Fausett added. “It just seems to me like this is all being blamed on impact fees and I disagree with that.”

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said the announcement that Northeast Georgia Medical Center will open a new hospital at GA. 400 and Hwy. 60 in Lumpkin County will create new opportunities.

“We’ve all continually said we want to diversify our economic base beyond just retail,” he said. “I think we have a great opportunity of attracting commercial office space when it comes to the medical aspect that is going to be ancillary to the hospital. It seems to me (impact fees) are a barrier we’re putting in place that we do control. I think we need to take a good look at this to make sure we don’t miss out on some high paying jobs that can revolve around the new hospital.”

Items discussed during a work session are typically not voted on until they come before the Board in a 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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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CORRECTION: Dawson Village Partners plan for 2,700-home development attracts strong opposition from Dawson County residents

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NOTE: The dates for the planning commission hearing and Board of Commissioners hearing were incorrectly published in the initial reporting of this article. We apologize for any confusion The correct dates are listed below.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. -Dawsonville Village Partners is proposing a mixed-use development to be located on a 974-acre site at the northwest corner of the intersection of Lumpkin Campground Road and Ga. 400 west, crossing the Etowah River and reaching Etowah River Road.

The Dawson County Planning Commission will hear a request to rezone the property to Mixed Use Village on Tuesday, March 19. The request will go before the Board of Commissioners April 18. Both hearings will be held in the County Administration Building at 6 p.m. and the public is invited to attend and speak in opposition to or in favor of the proposal.

The plan also calls for a 350-home, age-restricted senior community, a continuing-care retirement community, approximately 338,000 square feet of retail space and more than 243,000 square feet of office space, a luxury hotel, conference center, central park and walking trails.

Developers believe the project will provide a “destination” to attract visitors and encourage them to stay longer and spend more money in the county.

But opponents worry the mega development will over burden an already challenged infrastructure and destroy the quality of life in Dawson County.

Residents have taken to Facebook pages like Focus on Dawson and Dawson Discussion to voice their opinion.

Gina Wilson Schulte asked, “Why would you oppose this. It brings jobs and tax money to Dawson County.”

But Schulte was in a very small minority of posters. The overwhelming majority expressed strong opposition.

Dava Hudgins, for example, posted, “2,700 more houses? We don’t have the infrastructure for what we already have, including water and sewer. Our police force is stretched as it is. There is no budget for more. We don’t need this kind of development.”

Jennifer Dyer stated, “This looks like a nightmare.”

Kelley Crane posted, “I came here 20 years ago to get away from this c_ _ _. Why is this happening to our quiet little town?”

Douglas S. Davis asked, sarcastically, “Is this going to lower my taxes like the Mall was supposed to?”

And Danny Gilbert lamented the fact that “Our way of life will soon be gone.”

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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 work session Thursday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Public Works Director David McKee will ask commissioners for $44,000 to complete the intersection improvements at Hwy. 53/Lumpkin Campground Road when the Board of Commissioners meets in a work session at 4 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 14).

Commissioners approved $56,000 for Vertical Earth to complete the curb work and an amount not to exceed $100,000 for the entire project. Vertical Earth has completed its portion of the project. McKee is now asking for the balance of the $100,000 approved amount to complete additional road work such as stripping, erosion control, hauling, milling, drainage pipe, etc.

Last July, commissioners approved retention of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley (BBGA) to represent the County as a plaintiff in multi-district opioid litigation. However, that firm was never formally retained and no contract for legal services was ever approved. The multi-state litigation currently involves claims from hundreds of states, counties, and cities nationwide, all consolidated in a federal court in Ohio.

Interim county attorneys Jarrard & Davis have prepared a contract on behalf of the county that calls for BBGA to receive 30% of any recovery, plus reimbursement of costs. There should be no cost to the county from this litigation – if there is no recovery, or if the recovery is valuable but not monetary in nature, the county will not be required to pay any money. In addition, BBGA will indemnify and hold harmless the county against any award of fees or costs to the defendants in the case

In other business, commissioners will consider:

  • Recission of its denial of the alcohol license application from Blackrock Food Service LLC d/b/a/ Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ and Consideration of Issuance of Alcohol License (Retail Consumption on Premises of Beer and Wine);
  • A Presentation of FY 2019 Public Defender Intergovernmental Agreement Between Dawson and Hall Counties;
  • A presentation of FY 2019 State Public Defender Contract;
  • A presentation of an on-call electrical service award (rebid);
  • A presentation of 2019 Charity Boot Drives;
  • A presentation of staff response to a citizen’s reported concerns;
  • A presentation of new proposed recycling agreement with Advanced Disposal;
  • Discussion of Parks & Recreation Programs;
  • Discussion of Impact Fees on Commercial Businesses.

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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 to discuss legal representation at Thursday work session

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioner will discuss how to proceed with its legal representation during Thursday’s work session which begins at 4 p.m.

County attorney Lynn Frey, who was hired as in-house counsel in Feb. 2017, announced in a letter to commissioners that he is retiring due to an illness.

The BOC retained Jarrard & Davis, LLP to serve as interim Dawson County attorneys for a period of 60 days on December 27, 2018.

In following the county’s purchasing policy ordinance County Manager David Headley will ask the Board to approve a request for a professional exemption for Jarrard & Davis to fulfill the scope of services in the approved agreement and to approve a budget for their services.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk will recommend using the funds allocated for the county attorney in 2019. All costs will go into account called Legal Fees.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Presentation of LED Lighting Project Proposal for the library that was tabled from the Nov. meeting;
  • Consideration of the Comprehensive Plan, tabled from the Jan. 17 voting session[, Voting Session)
  • Presentation of Capital Improvements Element Annual Update;
  • Presentation of FY 2019 Legacy Link Nutrition Program ;
  • Presentation of Community Development Block Grant Language Access Plan Update;
  • Presentation of Professional Exemption Request for Interim County Attorney;
  • Presentation of Board Appointments to the Joint Development Authority (Christie Haynes Moore, John Drew, Betsy McGriff);
  • Discussion of Grant Application Procedures.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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