DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council was expected to render a decision on Atlanta Motorsports Park’s request to modify existing zoning stipulations at the track at Monday’s meeting but the applicant decided last week to withdraw the request.
Several related issues were on the agenda. An ethics complaint against former Downtown Development Authority member Seanie Zappendorf was rendered moot by her resignation. Zappendorf was accused of misrepresenting herself as a city employee.
City Attorney Dana Miles pointed out that the most an ethics committee could do would be to issue a letter of reprimand or direct counseling but since Zappendorf is no longer associated with the city, the issue should be considered moot. He recommend the board direct City Manager Bob Bolz to write a letter to the complainant explaining what had happened. Councilwoman Angie Smith made that motion and it passed unanimously.
Council was also expected to appoint an ethics committee but decided to postpone appointments until the July meeting. The three-member committee is to be made up of one member appointed by the mayor, another appointed by the council and a third to be chosen by the mayor and city council together. That member must be a member of the Georgia Bar.
On May 1, council tabled a request by Len Reeves to modify existing zoning conditions on property located at 280 Maple Street zoned R-6, (residential multi-family) to await the results of a traffic study. But Planning Director Casey Majewski told council she had only received the study on the day of the council meeting and did not have time to review it. The request was tabled until the July meeting.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Atlanta Motorsports Park has withdrawn its request to modify existing zoning stipulations at the facility, blaming a “last-minute snafu” by city officials. But the issue is almost certain to resurface again in six months.
George Butler, the attorney for AMP, notified City Planning and Zoning Director Cathy Majewski in an email last Friday that the track is withdrawing its request for now.
Butler said City Attorney Dana Miles contacted him three days after the last public hearing on March 18 and asked him if AMP would be willing to withdraw the residential components (mini-cabins and garage condos) from the request.
In his email, Butler wrote: “ As you know, ZA -89 went before the Mayor and City Council with a Recommendation for Approval from the Planning Commission at its March 13, 2017 meeting which included a recommendation for expanding allowable uses of the CIR property (as requested by AMP) to include both “garage condos” and “mini cabins.”
… “So you can imagine my surprise when Dana Miles contacted me three days after the last public hearing and brought up, for the first time in the entire four-month process (which began January 17) the question of whether my client would be willing to withdraw those critical “residential components” from the pending ZA-89 on the basis the entire ZA-89 was improperly advertised since the CIR zoning classification in the City of Dawsonville does not support residential uses.
…”AMP has decided not only to withdraw the residential component of ZA-89 at the City’s invitation but also to withdraw ZA-89 in toto and it hereby does so with the full understanding that this withdrawal may prejudice its rights to re-apply for any zoning change for a period of 6 months and result in the forfeiture of its application fees. Unfortunately the impact of our residential component to AMPs vision for the future and the seriousness of this last-minute snafu leave my client little choice.”
Council was expected to vote on the request at Monday’s meeting.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Atlanta Motorsports Park owner Jeremy Porter said he suggested Seanie Zappendorf step down as a member of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) as soon as he learned about the complaint filed against her by Carlita Parks.
Parks’ complaint to City Manager Bob Bolz that Zappendorf misrepresented herself as a city employee is the basis for a formal ethics complaint. Zappendorf is not a city employee, but was a member of the DDA when she questioned Parks about her complaints against AMP.
The race track was involved in a controversial zoning issue at the time and Zappendorf’s questioning of Parks could be seen as a conflict of interest since she and her husband, Ron, own Discover Parts, a racing parts store that leases property at the track.
An email obtained from city officials confirms that Porter wrote City Councilwoman Angie Smith on May 2 stating:
“I wanted to bring an issue to your attention that affects both AMP and the City of Dawsonville in the hope that we can work together to find a resolution.
“Please find attached a copy of a letter that was sent to Bob Boltz (sic) by Carita Parks who is a nearby resident of the AMP track. In her letter, Mrs. Parks describes the actions of one of our tenants, Seanie Zappendorf, who appears to have interfered in both City of Dawsonville and AMP business while making false claims to be acting in an official capacity for both parties. (Giving Mrs. Parks a card with city of Dawsonville on it, when in reality it is the DDA / Stating she is an investor in AMP). I am not certain her actions were malicious, however I believe it does require action on our part.
“Mrs. Zappendorf is not an AMP investor, nor has she been given permission to act on our behalf in any way under any circumstances.
“I am extremely alarmed that any local resident should feel as if they are being given a ‘warning’ by a representative of AMP or the DDA. I would like to, with your permission, inform Mrs. Parks that Mrs. Zappendorf is not an AMP investor and that her actions are not endorsed by us. I would also urge you to use this opportunity to provide reassurance to Mrs. Parks that Mrs. Zappendorf does not have any authority with the City of Dawsonville when it comes to assessing sound levels.
“My suggestion is to ask that Mrs. Zappendorf step down from the DDA. However, I would welcome your feedback on how to directly address this resident’s complaint and Mrs. Zappendorf’s actions.
“I would also be interested to discuss ways in which we can work together to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Zappendorf resigned from DDA six days later and AMP has withdrawn its request for modifications to its zoning stipulations.
City Council is expected to appoint a three-member ethics commission Monday to hear the complaint.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A standing-room-only audience packed Dawsonville City Hall Monday in hopes that — after six months — city council could finally make a decision on the sound, lighting and operating hours variances requested by Atlanta Motorsports Park (AMP). But, after a one-hour public hearing, supporters and opponents left disappointed as council members chose to punt. A decision is not likely until June 5.
Some progress was made, however. Owner Jeremy Porter made several significant concessions to area residents who oppose the variances and the city did conduct a sound study.
Sound engineer Tom Trask presented his findings prior to the start of the public hearing. He said the study showed the track did not exceed the city’s imposed 69 dBa (the terminology refers to a weighted decibel limit on average for a-16 hour period). But it was unclear why the four sound monitors were not placed at the track, but instead were placed at four area residences.
Both sides were given 30 minutes to present their case. George Butler, a highly-animated Dahlonega attorney, took the full 30 minutes to argue on behalf of the owner.
Butler began by withdrawing AMP’s request for unlimited noise on 15 days each year. Now, the track is asking for unlimited noise only on the 4th of July.
Butler pointed out that the county’s Planning Commission had recommended a 98 dBa public address system limit at trackside but the owner is only asking for 80 dBa at 50 feet from the edge of the track.
AMP’s current operating hours are from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Nov. 1 through March 31 and 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. (or one hour after sunset) from April 1 through Oct. 31. Porter would like to have the hours extended between March 15 and Nov. 15 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Retained in the proposal unveiled Monday was the request to build condos or micro-cabins on the property.
Several area residents spoke in opposition to the variations, most complaining about the noise and potential loss of property value. One man said regardless of the sound study, the noise is disruptive from as far away as a mile.
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 www.fetchyournews.com
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The City of Dawsonville will hold two important meetings Monday. At 3 p.m., the council will conduct an up or down vote on the removal of Mayor James Grogan from office for allegedly violating the City Code and Charter. At 7 p.m. there will be a public hearing on a highly controversial request by Atlanta Motorsports Park to relax lighting, noise and hours of operation restrictions.
Grogan was the subject of a city-wide investigation to decide what, if anything, should be done to ensure city officials are in compliance with the charter. The conclusion was that Mayor Grogan should be removed from office.
At last week’s meeting, Gainesville City Attorney Abbott Hayes, who led the investigation, reported that Grogan had been paid for meetings not authorized by city council, charged alcohol and gasoline to his city-issued credit card, allowed a state representative to pay the lower residential rate for water, sewer and garbage for a business instead of the appropriate commercial rate and that he authorized lower fees for rezoning applications than those set by council.
In responding to the charges, Grogan said, “I’m disappointed in council and what they have laid out. A lot of things they have pointed out go back five years and we’ve made a lot of policy changes since then. I didn’t do anything wrong. This is the result of a witch hunt that has been conducted by two city council members against me for the last year and a half.”
Hayes report alleges that in 2015, when State Rep. Kevin Tanner complained about paying the higher commercial rate for city water, sewer and garbage on behalf of Tanco Investments, LLC, Grogan unilaterally allowed him to pay the lower residential rate instead.
Between 2013 and 2015, Hayes said, Grogan approved donations to nonprofit organizations, including golf tournaments in which he participated as a player. When the City Attorney pointed out that donations to nonprofit organizations by the City violates the gratuities clause of the Georgia State Constitution the payments stopped.
The City Charter provides for the mayor to be paid a monthly compensation of $2,000 plus $100 “for each specially called city council meeting, work session or other meeting that has been pre-approved by the council. But Hayes alleges that Grogan charged the city for meetings that were not pre-approved by council.
Finally, Hayes alleges that in Nov. 2014, Grogan instructed city employee Sara Beachem to purchase four bottles of alcohol for him to give as a door prize at a regional government dinner. The report states that the Mayor’s unilateral decision to purchase alcohol for use as a door prize without approval of the city council violated the City Code and Charter.
Section 5.15 of the City Charter provides the mayor shall be subject to removal for any one or more of the following causes: Incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance in office; Abandonment of office or neglect to perform the duties thereof or Failure for any other cause to perform the duties of office as required by this Charter or by law.
The 7 p.m. public hearing is expected to draw a standing-room-only crowd as council votes on modifications to the current provisions at Atlanta Motorsports Park that include changes to lighting, sound restrictions, hours and addition of condominiums.
A March 13 Planning Commission hearing on the issue drew a packed house, made up mostly of angry citizens who live near the track and say the noise has already destroyed the tranquility and quality of life in the area. Despite community objections, planning commission voted 2-1 (Stan Worley in opposition) to recommend the modifications.
City council tabled the issue so council members could visit AMP and experience the noise levels firsthand.
The land where AMP was built was annexed from Dawson County and county commissioners wrote a letter to city council requsting council reject the changes on behalf of the citizens who live nearby.
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 www.fetchyournews.com
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Dawsonville City Council will meet Monday, Apil 3 at 5 p.m. in the G.L. “Pete” Gilleland Council Chambers at City Hall, 415 Highway 53 East. Among the items council will decide is an amendment to zoning conditions that would relax noise and light restrictions on Atlanta Mororsports Park at 80 Joe Lane Cox Road.
Council will hold a public hearing to allow citizens to express their support or opposition.
The issue prompted the Dawson County Board of Commissioners to write a letter to city government expressing its opposition. Commissioners acknowledge they have no jurisdiction in the matter, but requested the city to take into consideration the opposition of county residents who live near the facility.
- Items to be voted on under New Business, include
- Appointment of a member to fill the vacancy on the Planning Commission;
- A proposed change to the alcohol ordinance
- Setting a deadline for submitting agenda items and support documents;
- Acceptance of bids for water meters;
- Acceptance of bids for water system improvements/well development;
- Renewal of the lease agreement with the house located at 224 Flat Creek Drive;
- A resolution proclaiming April 23-29 as Georgia Cities Week;
- A special event permit to serve alcohol at the Bowen Arts Center.
Council will then hear staff reports from the City Manager Bob Bolz, City Clerk Bonnie Warne and Utilities Director Gary Barr.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) could begin work immediately on access controls where Ga. Hwy. 400 intersects with Kilough Church Road and the North Georgia Premium Outlets after Dawson County Commissioners voted last night to authorize a letter of support for the project.
The Right In Right Out Left In (RIROLI) access controls will be fully funded by GDOT and should cause minimal inconvenience to motorists since the work will all be done within the existing Right of Way.
Commissioners Sharon Fausett and Chris Gaines missed last night’s meeting while attending training. Their absence required Chairman Billy Thurmond, who usually votes only in the case of ties, to vote on all issues.
The three-person Board voted unanimously to apply for a GDOT grant to fund the repair of a wing wall off Dawson Forest Road along Blacks Mill Creek damaged in last year’s storm.
Commissioners also approved the purchase of a side arm mower and utility tractor mower to replace three tractors that are no longer serviceable at a cost of $210,000. The equipment will be purchased with SPLOST VI proceeds.
In addition, commissioners approved a Drug Treatment Services request to apply for a state grant in the amount of $279,514 to bring HELP Program under Treatment Court as a mental health court track. A county match of $31,057 is required from county funds.
The Board also agreed to renew an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Dawsonville authorizing the county to organize and implement all municipal elections and another IGA with with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority regarding the Taffer Road Gravity Sewer Line.
Commissioners authorized two resolutions to be sent to the City of Dawsonville, one expressing opposition to the city’s purchase of the airport located in Dawson County and it’s future operations and another expressing opposition to a request by Atlanta Motorsports Park (AMP) to relax noise and light restrictions.
During the Public Comments period, Jonathan Wolfe asked commissioners to revisit the Paladin Wireless issue. Paladin is a Royston-based wireless internet provider that has proposed placing antennas on the roof of the courthouse. The company said that by doing so it can provide internet access to 400 customers who do not have access.
But commissioners tabled the issue last month to give the company time to provide additional information they requested and Chairman Billy Thurmond said the company has not yet responded.
District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby expressed real concerns about liability issues and whether county taxpayers would be responsible to pay for any damage to the roof or injuries to Paladin personnel who have access to the roof.
Hugh Stowers spoke to the Board about improving communications with its citizens. Mr. Stowers pointed out there are some major projects on the horizon and that citizens need to be fully informed.