Commissioners say no to major residential development

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Dist. 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to deny a zoning application by Dawson Forest Holdings to build 177 single-family homes and 95 townhomes near Hwy. 53 and Elliott Road during Thursday’s commission meeting.

Dawson Forest Holding attorney Joshua Scoggins, of Miles, Hansford and Tallant, threatened to sue the county if commissioners voted to deny the application. However, commissioners stood their ground and sided with area homeowners who have repeatedly voiced strong opposition to the development.

Commissioners tabled decisions on approval of a budget for the Development Authority of Dawson County and the Impact Fee Methodology Report.

A revision of the Animal Control Ordinance that prohibits the use of tethering as the primary means of animal confinement was unanimously approved.

Commissioners also approved a request by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Lanier Swafford to apply for a Georgia Trauma Commission Non-Competitive EMS Equipment Grant in the amount of $5,371.91. The grant requires no county match.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby surprised many in attendance when he announced that he would not seek re-election. Hamby will end his second term as commissioner December 31.

FetchYourNews will have a report Tuesday, Jan. 23, on Hamby’s 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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Board of Commissioners to vote on Dawson Forest development

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Thursday, Jan. 18, on two variance applications that would allow Dawson Forest Holdings to build 177 single-family homes and 95 townhomes near Hwy. 53 and Elliott Road.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Dawson County Government Center Assembly Room.

Area homeowners voiced strong opposition when the applications surfaced a year ago. Commissioners sided with the homeowners at that time.

However, attorney Joshua Scoggins, of the Miles, Hansford and Tallant law firm, has filed new applications after he acknowledged there were some “technical deficiencies” that now have been corrected.

That acknowledgement, however, did nothing to lessen the opposition. Dozens of homeowners attended the Planning Commission meeting last month to voice their concerns, leading the planning commission to unanimously recommend denial of the applications. Now, the final decision is in the hands of the Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners are also expected to vote on a request for funding from the Development Authority of Dawson County (DADC).

The board voted to eliminate the budget for 2017 and 2018, but DADC Chairwoman Sherry Weeks made a presentation at a special called meeting last month requesting that operating expenses be restored. 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.

Other items on Thursday’s agenda include:

  • Consideration of the Georgia Trauma Commission Non-Competitive EMS Equipment Grant Application;
  • Consideration of  an Emergency Management Services Uniform Award Recommendation;
  • Consideration of proposed text amendments to the Animal Control Ordinance;
  • Consideration of 2018 qualifying fees for elected officials;
  • Consideration of board appointments for the Tree Preservation Committee;
  • Consideration of the Impact Fee Methodology Report final draft;
  • Appointment of a county clerk; and
  • Appointment of Board of Commissioners vice-chair.

 

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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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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County Will Get 65 “Gently Used” Voting Machines

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Dawson County Director of Elections Glenda Ferguson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The county’s aging voting machines are about to be replaced. The machines have been in use for 16 years and can no longer be repaired. Commissioners voted Thursday to buy 65 machines from San Diego County at a cost of $39,194.90.

San Diego’s machines have only been used once but, because their future elections will be done by paper ballots, county officials need to sell the “gently used” machines. Elections Supervisor Glenda Ferguson felt this was a good opportunity to buy replacement machines at a discount.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to accept the county audit performed by Rushton and Company that shows the county’s General Fund revenue increased by 5.41 percent from $21,054,087 in 2015 to $22,183,220 last year. At the same time expenditures rose by 6.73 percent from $20,186,557 to $21,734,253. Sales tax accounted for 40.86 percent of 2015 revenue while property taxes generated 32.3 percent.

The county has maintained a very healthy fund balance of $5,102,625 or 24.6 percent of expenditures. The Association of County Commissioners Georgia recommends not less than 15 percent.

Commissioners also approved a Parks and Recreation request for $29,966 to purchase a LED message board at the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park and Senior Services. The project came in under budget.

The Magistrate Court is asking commissioners to add $1,000 to the current budget to pay for federally mandated interpreters. The amount budgeted for 2017 was expended in June.

Commissioners agreed to renew a contract with the Bank of the Ozarks for a joint project with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority (EWSA). The county approved the financing arrangement in 1998 to provide a sanitary sewer facility to serve the Georgia 400 retail/outlet. The loan has been paid down to about $1.4 million and the current note is now due. Though the note is in the name of EWSA, the County has indirect liability on the note.

Commissioners selected County Manager David Bearden, County Attorney Lynn Frey and County Clerk Danielle Yarborough to serve on a committee that will study the commissioners’ compensation, something that has not been done in 12 years.

The board declined a request to separate code compliancy and enforcement from the Planning and Zoning Department as requested.

Allen Ferg and Peter Thomas were appointed to the Dawson County Library Board. Their terms will run through 2021.

Randy Harris was appointed to serve a one-year term on the Industrial Building Authority Board.

The board went into executive session to discuss a legal matter. Following the executive session, the board heard a summary from the county attorney of the parties and significant terms of a proposed Consent Order in the case of Dawson Forest Holdings LLC against Dawson County and its commissioners.  Following that session, the BOC voted affirmatively on a motion to approve execution of the Consent Order and presentation of it to the Superior Court.

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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