City residents voice strong opposition to Ensite development

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawsonville residents packed the city hall meeting room during Monday’s City Council meeting to voice their opposition to a proposed development that would add 172 new residences on a 38.58 acre tract at 592 Hwy. 53 West.

The developer, Ensite Civil Consulting, LLC, has asked for the property to be rezoned from R-3 to Residential Planned Community to be marketed to senior citizens. However, before the meeting, Ensite asked for and received a postponement until the April 22 meeting.

Council did go ahead with the public hearing and seven area residents marched to the podium to explain why they don’t believe the development is in the best interests of the city. No one spoke in favor of the project.

Dava Hudgins spoke first to say the area is already heavily congested. “Add in this many more units they are requesting and this is going to be a dangerous intersection,” she said. “I don’t want another child in this county to wreck or be injured or killed because of poor planning where this road is concerned.”

Jeff Chastain, whose property is adjacent to the proposed development, expressed concern about an underground stream that crosses the property and flows into a branch which then feeds into Shoal Creek. Chastain said the runoff will damage the water quality and threaten endangered species.

“There is no way you can put 170 homes with two or three vehicles per home and keep the oil and gas and everything you’re going to get from that out of the waterway,” he said. “I don’t see how that is environmentally possible. This is beyond ridiculous. That is some of the cleanest water you will find around here.”

The planning commission unanimously recommended that council deny the request to rezone the property.

Councilman Mark French said, “I believe we should uphold the planning commission’s decision.”

He pointed out that if the residents are required to be 55-and older in a few years, many of the residents would be eligible for a senior tax exemption and sales tax generated by the development would be insufficient to pay for the additional services the city would have to provide. “I’m just concerned we would not be able to do that.”

While some opponents pointed out that the developer could not legally limit the sale of the units to non-senior citizens, City Attorney Dana Miles explained that under federal law, the City could do so.

“Under the Housing for Older Persons Act, there can be a requirement that (council) can put in by ordinance as a stipulation if you see fit to rezone this property,” he said. “It allows (government) to discriminate in the sale of housing units to people under 55. At least 80 percent of the residences must be owned by and lived in by someone 55 and older.”

 

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Dawsonville City Council meeting at 5:30 Monday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council will hold a combined work session and regular meeting Monday (March 18) at 5:30 p.m. in the G.L. Gilleland Council Chambers.

Council will hold a second reading of a proposed amendment to the city’s Ethics Ordinance aimed at clarifying and better defining the scope of the ordinance and clarifying, defining and restricting conflicts of interest and penalties applicable for elected officials and employees. The amendment also provides for defining qualification of members of the Ethics Board that will hear complaints from citizens.

Ensite Civil Consulting, LLC will ask Council to rezone 38.58 acres at 592 Hwy. 53 West from Single Family Residential (R-3) to Residential Planned Community (RPC) for the purpose of building a 172-home subdivision targeted for seniors. The subdivision would consist of quad homes and townhomes and would require a density of 4.5 units per acre. Planning Commission has recommended council deny the request based on density, no age restrictions and traffic concerns.

Mayor Mike Eason will read a proclamation declaring March 18 as Tigers Day in honor of the Dawson County High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. The boys team posted a 27-5 record, won the Region 7-AAA championship and advanced to the State Tournament’s Final Four, farther than any DCHS team ever.

The girls team posted an impressive 22-9 record and advanced to the State Tournament’s  Elite 8.

Dan and Venita Anderson will request Council annex a 12.19 acre tract at 378 Shoal Creek Road into the City of Dawsonville.

Council is also expected to vote on a resolution of recertification as City of Ethics status with the Georgia Municipal Association.

Council will also consider a recommendation by Christopher Poje to adjust water and sewer rates and water and sewer tap fees.

 

 

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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City Council approves mayor’s pay raise, 3-1

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1 Monday (Feb. 4) to approve an amendment to the city charter that will increase the mayor’s salary from $600 to $1,000 per month starting in 2020.

Councilman Mark French, who has opposed the pay raise from the beginning, cast the dissenting vote.

Other changes to the city charter approved by last night’s vote include language to better describe how council members are to be elected following the addition of new posts and that they must live in their district for at least one year prior to being elected.

The provision in the amendment that would have increased council members salary from $500 to $600 was stricken before the vote was taken.

French’s motion to table a vote until after the state legislature passes or rejects it died for lack of a second.

Attorney Kevin Tallant, whose Cumming-based law firm Miles, Hansford and Tallant represents the City of Dawsonville, said, “I don’t believe it’s necessary to table it until after the legislature acts. I understand your request but I don’t see a legal impediment to you moving forward.”

To which French replied, “Just because something is legal doesn’t always mean it is the right thing to do.”

French voiced several objections to the amendment. He pointed to wording on the first page that states: “Whereas the charter of the City of Dawsonville has not been substantially revised since its passage in the Georgia Legislature since April 1996 …”

“That is not a true statement,” he said. “It was amended in Dec. ’17.”

Regarding the pay raise, he said, “I do not think this is justified. I do not support it and I will not vote for it.”

He also objected to Section 5.11e which calls for the creation of “four council member districts of approximately equal population.”

French said, “The districts have already been created so there is no need to recreate them. These districts were approved by this council at our June 4 regular meeting in 2018.”

Tallant expressed frustration at French’s objections. Three times, he seemed to scold him for not raising the objections earlier.

“First of all, I’ll say I am a little disappointed this is the third reading and second public hearing and this is the first time I’m hearing some of these things. I’m certain these things could have been brought up before.”

Later when Tallant said, “Again, that’s something that could have been brought up earlier if you had a concerns about it.”

French quickly shot back, “Anybody. It could have been brought up by anybody. Mr. Tallant, I suggest you not question my timing.”

“Understood,” Tallant responded.

There was also a tense exchange between French and Councilman Jacob Phillips when French wanted to know who proposed raising the mayor’s salary.

“On the record, I have talked to every one of the council members, including yourself and no elected official I know brought this up,” Phillips said.

“So how did it get there,” French asked. “I think when you’re spending the people’s money, you ought to be able to tell them how these things transpired.”

 

 

 

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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City Council set to backtrack on reduction in mayor’s pay

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — In a complete reversal of its Dec. 2017 decision to slash the mayor’s pay, Dawsonville City Council members are now expected to vote for a substantial increase not only in the mayor’s pay, but for each council member when they meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

Councilman Mark French has been adamantly opposed to the pay raise since the idea surfaced during a public hearing on Jan. 7.  Two weeks later, during the second public hearing, French said, “I would like to state my continued opposition to any increase for the mayor or any member of the council.”

In a phone interview with Fetch Your News the next day, French said, when the mayor’s pay was reduced, we were told the reason was the city had just hired – for the first time — a city manager who would take over many of the mayor’s responsibilities. “But now council is looking to increase the salary and no additional duties have been added,” he said.

If the increase is approved, it would nearly double the mayor’s pay to $1,000 per month plus $150 for a city council meeting and another $150 for each additional meeting pre-approved by city council. Council members’ pay would increase from $500 to $600 per month plus an additional $150 per city council meeting and $150 for an additional meeting per-approved by council. All that is in addition to approximately $20,000 in insurance benefits the mayor and council now receive.

A number of people have questioned why city council has backtracked on the issue.

Former Mayor James Grogan thinks he knows the answer.

Grogan has said the pay reduction was politically motivated. In 2016, Councilmen Jason Power and Caleb Phillips and former Councilwoman Angie Smith voted to oust Grogan from office for alleged violations of the city charter. Grogan went to court to get his job back, but lost.

He says when Phillips, Power and Smith got word he planned to run against then interim mayor Mike Eason in a special election they voted to reduce the pay to deter him. Grogan did run again, but was defeated by Eason.

In other action under the consent agenda Monday, council is expected to approve:

  • The Get Your Glow On 5k Race scheduled for Mar. 8;
  • A special event alcohol permit for Georgia Racing Hall of Fame for Mar. 2;
  • Auditing services RFQ;
  • Construction Management Services RFQ;
  • Storm water Facility Management agreement;
  • A motion to table the parking project at city hall.

Under New Business, council is expected to vote on:

  • An amendment to the garbage service ordinance;
  • Red Oak Sanitation contract;
  • Calculation of service charge for garbage service.

 

 

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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Dawsonville City Council wants to increase pay for mayor and council members 13 months after voting for a decrease in pay

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Mike Eason

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Just 13 months after the Dawsonville City Council voted to reduce the mayor’s pay from $2,000 to $600 per month all but one council member now wants to increase the pay for the mayor and each council member.

By a vote of 3-1 during last night’s council meeting council approved the second reading of an amendment to the city charter that would nearly double the mayor’s pay to $1,000 per month plus $150 for each city council meeting and another $150 for each additional meeting pre-approved by city council. All that is in addition to approximately $20,000 in insurance benefits the mayor and council now receive.

If approved, the pay raises would not become effective until Jan. 2020.

A third reading and public hearing is set for Feb. 4 and, if approved, each council member also would receive an increase from $500 to $600 per month plus an additional $150 per city council meeting and $150 for an additional meeting per-approved by council.

Councilman Mark French — who was not on the council at the time the mayor’s pay was reduced, — voiced strong opposition. “I would like to state my continued opposition to any increase for the mayor or any member of the city council,” he said.

Mark French

In a phone interview Wednesday, French said when the mayor’s pay was reduced, we were told the reason was the city had just hired – for the first time — a city manager who would take over many of the mayor’s responsibilities.

“But now council is looking to increase the salary and no additional duties have been added,” he said.

Former Mayor James Grogan has said the pay reduction was politically motivated to discourage him from running against current Mayor Mike Eason.

Grogan was removed from office by a vote of city council members who alleged he violated the city charter. He was replaced by Mayor Eason, who served on an interim basis until he defeated Grogan in the special election in March.

Eason said Wednesday, “I don’t know why council decided to reduce the mayor’s pay. I had nothing to do with that. That vote took place on my very first meeting as interim mayor.”

Eason also said to his knowledge nothing has changed with regard to the responsibilities of mayor and city council since the pay reduction was approved.

 

 

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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Dawsonville City Council will meet Jan. 8

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council will hold its first regular meeting of the new year on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, 415 Highway 53 East, Suite 100.

Issues to be addressed include mayor and council board designations, appointments to the Historic Preservation Commission and a service agreement for preventative maintenance of the city’s generators.

There will also be staff reports from City Manager Bob Bolz, City Clerk Beverly Banister, Finance Administrator Hayden Wiggins, Utilities Director Gary Barr, Public Works Operations Manager Trampas Hansard and Planning Director Casey Majewski as well as the mayor and city council.

Council is expected to go into Executive Session to discuss potential or pending litigation, personnel, and/or land acquisition.

 

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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Public hearing on FY 2018-19 budget Monday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga — The Dawsonville City Council will hold a public hearing on the fiscal year 2018-19 budget Monday in the G.L. Gilleland Council Chambers on the second floor starting at 7 p.m.

The proposed spending plan calls for $5,755,543 in both revenue and expenditures. That represents an increase of $726,777 since last year. Council will vote on the budget June 18.

The major revenue sources are projected to be the local option sales tax ($998,100), water and sewer fees ($193,207), electric franchise fees ($145,000) special purpose local option sales tax ($138,000) motor vehicle title ad valorem tax ($100,000) and alcohol excise tax ($100,000). Major expenditures include administrative ($1,953,925) and capital outlay ($647,000).

Council will also hold a second reading of petitions of annexation into the city limits for property located at 324 and 372 Howser Mill Road.

Other items on the agenda include consideration of:

  • A contract for city inspector at a range of $40 to $55 per inspection;
  • A contract for Phase 1 Main Street Park. Staff recommends accepting the low bid of T.W. Phillips in the amount of $1,454,169.54;
  • A request by Pete Smith of SDC Gwinnett, LLC to continue to construct driveways in Rainhall with 1 foot 6 inch apron, although new requirements call for 3-foot apron. Smith states that the subdivision was 80 to 85 percent complete when the new requirement was approved; and
  • A request to issue a request for proposal for paving, patching and leveling of city streets.

 

 

 

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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Eason defeats Grogan in special election 195-120

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Mayor Mike Eason, a 31-year special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the state’s first inspector general, defeated former Mayor James Grogan 195-120 in a special election Tuesday.

Eason, 67, was appointed mayor last December after Dawsonville City Council removed Grogan for alleged violations of the city’s charter.

Eason said, “I appreciate everyone getting out to vote whether they voted for me or not. It means a lot to me knowing I have the support of the citizens. I plan to serve all the citizens, not just the ones who voted for me.”

Eason, who will take the oath of office April 9, said the city is working on a resolution to regulate the city’s speed limit. Another priority, he said, is working with the Downtown Development Authority on the comprehensive plan.

Grogan said he plans to call Eason to offer his congratulations and support.

The former mayor said he does not know what his future plans are right now. “It won’t be political,” Grogan said. He added that he was surprised by the outcome. “I got so much positive feedback from the citizens during the campaign, I was totally shocked,” he 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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