BOC needs more time to finalize comp plan

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners held one final public hearing on the 2018 comprehensive plan Thursday.

The plan is one of the county’s most important documents because it provides elected officials with a road map to use in planning the county’s future. It was developed after months of gathering public input at citizen meetings and in an online survey.

The state requires that a county’s comprehensive plan be updated every five years and approved by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in order to qualify for Certified Local Government Status and to be eligible for state grants and programs.

Thursday’s discussion centered on whether commissioners should base their zoning decisions on a future land use map, as it has done for years, or consider the character area map approach.

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said the character map offers more flexibility in zoning decisions but is less restrictive than the current future land use map.

“That’s the reason we wanted to look at both,” he said.

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Christine Moore said, “This is a document that people live and breathe every single day. The character area map to us does make the most sense because of the flexibility and control it provides and also because It allows an adaptability to our ever changing economy.”

Tony Passarello, who serves on both the Long Range Planning Commission and Comprehensive Board is Plan Commission favored the future land use map. “It is more consistent and legally supportable,” he said.

He did recognize some changes needed to be made.

As a member of the Dawson Development Authority, Passarello said one comment he hears constantly is “What we are trying to attract is business that offers higher-paying jobs and more professional growth so we can have our children who are being educated in our fine schools can stay in Dawson County. The current land use map we have has not been adjusted to make room for those types of businesses.”

Passarello also whatever plan is selected needs to “reflect the input we have received from the citizens.”

Terri Tragesser, co-chairman of the Long Range Planning Commission, said, “We have more comfort at this point in time with the future land use map. Not because we don’t believe the character area map has value. We just don’t know enough about it to feel comfortable with it. I’ve seen the future land use map in high-growth areas work very well.”

Like Passarello, however, Tragesser said the future land use map needs some changes.

“You have to put some overlays on those maps so they are more specific,” she said. “So they address things like Dawson Forest Road and Hwy. 9 intersection. That will build out with a lot of uncertainty. Right now, we have absolutely no definition in that intersection as to how it’s going to look, how it’s going to build out, how it’s going to work from a transportation standpoint. That’s the type of work that is still to be done.”

The DCA has already approved the comprehensive plan that includes the character area plan, but Hazell said only one section would need to be changed should the Board of Commissioners vote to approve the future land use map and that section has already been submitted for the DCA’s review and approval.

Commissioner Chris Gaines said, “I’d like to step back. I want to make sure we’re doing this correctly. I want to wrap my head around this from a legal standpoint personally before I’m willing to put my name on something that is the future guiding document for the county.”

The Board then directed Gaines and Commissioner Sharon Fausett to meet with the new interim county attorneys, Ken Jarrard and Angela Davis and come to next week’s meeting with additional information.

 

 

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Commissioners set millage rate, impact fees

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County’s 2019 millage rate is set at 8.138. During Thursday’s third and final public hearing, commissioners voted 3-1 to keep the rate the same as it has been for the last 10 years.

The rollback rate of 7.393 would have generated the same amount of revenue as it has in 2018.

The lone citizen to speak Thursday was Tony Passarello who asked commissioners to consider a compromise between the proposed rate of 8.138 and the rollback rate

Passarello said his position had evolved over the past several months from one supporting the current millage rate to where he could see the argument for a rollback rate.

“Is there an opportunity for us come to a compromise,” he asked. “As someone who has been in sales for a number of years, I can tell you that the best negotiations are the ones where nobody comes away happy.”

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines made a motion for the millage rate be set 8.0635. District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby asked how much that would save individual homeowners. Finance Director Vickie Neikirk came up with a quick calculation of about $7.45 on a $250,000 home. The motion failed 3-1.

After two weeks of open departmental budget hearings, commissioners felt they needed the extra revenue to balance the budget, improve the infrastructure provide the services citizens want.

Commissioners also voted to impose the maximum impact fees on new development, again on a 3-1 vote with Gaines opposed. The maximum fees include $3,400 for a new home, $1.88 per square foot for a super market and $1.64 per square foot for a shopping center.

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes said, “Our chamber is very concerned that a move from zero impact fees to maximum impact fees will overnight change our community into one that is perceived to be anti-business.”

She asked commissioners to consider adopting impact fees at 25 percent of the maximum for at least the first year and she pointed out that the maximum rate would place a higher cost of doing business in Dawson County than much larger counties like Hall, Forsyth and Cherokee.

Gaines said he, too, worried about sending an anti-business message. “We all want to attract higher-paying wages, he said. Setting impact fees at the maximum, he added is, “Simply putting another road block.”

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett argued that by not setting the maximum impact fees, the cost of new services created by the developments shifts to taxpayers already in the county. “I don’t think it should shift onto somebody else. It should be on those businesses.”

Chairman Billy Thurmond, who does not have a vote except in the case of a tie, said, “I think it would be in the best interest that we start the business category at 25 percent.” He stated, the fee could always be raised if it did not appear to discourage desired businesses from moving to the county.

“We talked about that a long time, where we’re looking for technology-based companies or medical,” he said. “We don’t want to take the chance where we may not get the high-paying jobs that come along with that.”

 

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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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.

 

 

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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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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