Chamber of Commerce wants commercial impact fees reduced

News

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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BOC needs more time to finalize comp plan

News

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.

 

 

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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Fausett, Satterfield, Armstrong take oath of office

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Probate Court Judge Jennifer Burt administered the oath of office and the loyalty oath to three of Dawson County’s elected officials Thursday.

Burt has been the county’s probate judge for nearly a quarter of a century.

“I’m looking forward to what 2019 has to offer,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of great things coming up for the New Year. We have a great group of commissioners and one great one (Jimmy Hamby) who will be leaving us. We’re going to miss him. He’s done a wonderful job.”

Tim Satterfield is the new member of the Board of Commissioners. He is certainly no stranger to Dawson County. Tim was elected following a stellar 41-year career as firefighter and in emergency services. He was accompanied by his mother Reba Satterfield. Who held the Bible that he placed his hand on while being sworn in.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett took the oath of office for the second time and she was accompanied by her grandson Blake Fausett. “This is why I do what I do,” Fausett said, speaking of her grandson.

District 3 School Board member Karen Armstrong was also sworn in for her second term.

School Board Chairman Will Wade was scheduled to be sworn in Thursday, but he and his family were out of town for the holidays, so he was administered the oath of office earlier.

 

 

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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Wildcat Community residents hold townhall meeting to addresses fire protection concerns

News

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — Nearly 100 residents of the Wildcat Community — a group of several small housing developments located in an isolated, mountainous section on the Dawson/Pickens county line — gathered inside Fire Station 8 Saturday morning to ask questions about fire protection for the community.

Two weeks before the meeting, a home on Burnt Mountain Ridge Road was destroyed by fire and community residents, some of them angry, spent nearly two hours grilling Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson and County Manager David Headley about fire protection for their community. County Commissioner Sharon Fausett, who represents the district, was also on hand as was Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones.

The meeting was organized by Clayton Preble, president of the Wildcat Community, John Tarantini, a volunteer firefighter at Fire Station 8. The questions they wanted answers to were: Why did it take so long for Fire Station 8 to respond to the fire on Burnt Mountain Ridge Road, why was Fire Station 8 not dispatched promptly since it is only 2.5 miles from the fire and what  became of the water tank the organizers say Dawson County promised to provide.

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson responds to questions Saturday.

Thompson explained that due to a flaw in Dawson County’s aging computer aided dispatch system (CAD)  — which the county is in the process of replacing — the initial 9-1-1 call bypassed Fire Station 8 and went to stations 6, 4 and 1, the closest of which is located in nearby Big Canoe.

The initial call was received at 8:04 a.m. and, according to CAD data, the first firetruck on the scene arrived at 8:28 a.m.

Thompson pointed out that while Fire Station 8 did not receive the 9-1-1 Tarantini had monitored the call and was aware of the fire 2.5 miles away. He was free to self-report to the scene,” Thompson said. But he also noted that Fire Station 8 is manned by volunteers and is not authorized to engage in fire suppression activities. Their sole responsibility is to lay hose lines and prepare the scene for arriving certified firefighters. Therefore, he said, there is no chance they could have saved the home.

For 90 minutes, Thompson, who only joined the Dawson County Emergency Services in May 2018, patiently and fully answered every question.

Then came the question that Headley said was the real reason for the meeting. That question: What happened to the water tank Dawson County promised?”

There is a water tank located at Fire Station 8, but it holds only 45,000 gallons of water and once it is drained takes several days to refill.

In a slide presentation prepared by Preble, he asserts, “It was agreed that Dawson County would provide a tank and move it and Pickens County would construct the foundation. There was a firm agreement that each party would do their part.”

Preble further asserts that Pickens County has constructed a concrete slab as the foundation for the tank at a cost of approximately $20,000 and the Wildcat Community has reimbursed Pickens County about $12,500. Now, he said, the ball is in Dawson County’s court.

 

Headley said Dawson and Pickens County officials and representatives from Wildcat Community have engaged in informal discussions about an additional tank but he strongly disagrees there was ever a “firm agreement.” Any agreement, he points out, would have to be approved by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and that has not happened.

Headley said when the talks began, a tank was located and former Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford estimated moving the tank would cost approximately $10,000. Since then, however, county officials have learned the cost could be anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 if a contractor could be located. Headley said the county advertised invitations to bid (IFB) and no bids were received.

Headley said the whole purpose of Saturday’s meeting was to “ambush” Dawson County officials and pressure them into providing a water tank for the community. “We wanted to hold the meeting here at the Senior Center but they said no. We wanted to set the agenda but they said no.”

Headley said he understands the community’s concern and wants to but feels the cost has to be equally shared by all parties.

 

 

 

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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County budget approval postponed two weeks

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Approval of Dawson County’s $27.1 million FY 2019 budget will have wait a few more weeks after commissioners made several recommendations, including the elimination of one new position in the fire department, hiring the position of public information officer and extending library hours during Thursday’s third public hearing.

Commissioners voted to table budget approval while Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk calculates the impact the recommendations will have on the final budget.

Chris Gaines

The proposed budget called for hiring a new fire training officer at a cost of approximately $61,000 annually. District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines recommended that current personnel provide the training in addition to their normal roles. He also proposed awarding the department an additional $15,000 of overtime pay to compensate officers for the additional responsibilities. The savings would be approximately $46,000.

“By allocating those resources, it would be a little more efficient,” Gaines said.

The county is attempting to address important needs that have existed for a long time but could not be addressed due to the recession and recovering economy.

Julie Hughes-Nix

“We’re trying to plug as many holes as possible and still be responsible with the citizens’ money,” Gaines said. “My goal and my desire is to go into next year’s budget with the mentality of how can we not ask more of the citizens when it comes to property taxes.”

County commissioners have long felt the need to improve communications with the public and District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix recommended the county hire a public information officer to perform those responsibilities.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett asked for a breakdown of cost to provide extended hours for the Dawson County Library’s satellite office on Hwy. 53. “I don’t think it speaks very well of us when people come and it is closed,” she said.

Shron Fausett

The satellite office is currently opened on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

No citizen rose to speak in opposition to or in favor of the budget.

Commissioners voted 3-1, with Dist. 2 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby opposed, to postpone several requests for annexation of property into the city of Dawsonville for two weeks.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

  • A request to accept a 2019 Victims of Crime Act Grant funds in the amount of $74,088.84. No county match is required;
  • A request to apply for a Department of Natural Resources Land & Water Conservation Fund Grant to repair/replace the fishing pier at War Hill Park. The minimum fund grant that can be applied for is $25,000. The maximum grant if $100,000 and the county will have to provide a 50 percent match;
  • A request to hire a legal assistant. The position is already included in the 2019 budget, but the request is to fill the position this year at an additional cost of $6,956.20 for five pay periods through the end of December;
  • A Service Delivery Strategy Agreement;
  • A request by Michael Turner, executor for the estate of Kenneth K. Turner to have property located at the intersection of Perimeter Road and Allen Street annexed into the City of Dawsonville. The Dawsonville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue on Oct. 8. The Dawsonville City Council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 22 and the annexation could be awarded final approval on Nov. 5;
  • A request by Board of Tax Appraisers Chief Appraiser Elaine Garrett to approve a contract for the services of an additional appraiser for the current year and next tax year.

 

 

 

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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State lawmakers Gooch, Williams and Raffensperger are featured speakers at Dawson Co. GOP meeting

News

Sen. Steve Gooch

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) was the featured speaker at the Dawson County Republican Party meeting Tuesday at The Bowen Center for the Arts.

The event drew many office holders and political candidates like gubernatorial candidate Sen. Mike Williams (R-Cumming), State Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek), chairwoman of the Dawson County Board of Education and candidate for Secretary of State Karen Armstrong, , and her opponent Joe Stapp.

Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason, former County Commission Chairman Mike Berg, County Commissioner Sharon Fausett and Tim Satterfield, who will replace Jimmy Hamby on the Board of Commissioners in January, were also in attendance.

Gooch said, “This was one of the most successful sessions in the eight years I’ve been in the General Assembly. We passed the first income tax cut in Georgia history.” The tax was cut by one-quarter of a percent this year and will be cut by one-half percent next year.

Sen. Mike Williams

He cited fully funding Quality Based Education (QBE) for the first time since it was passed in 1985, the distracted driving bill that makes it illegal for a driver to touch their cell phone and increased funding for school safety as accomplishments during the recent session of the General Assembly.

Williams was the first elected official in Georgia to publicly endorse Donald Trump for president. Like Trump, Williams is primarily self-funding his campaign. “We’re relying on the people who know me best to donate five, 10 or 20 dollars to help carry us across the finish line,” he said. “That is important because when I reach the governor’s office, who am I going to be beholden to? It’s not the big lobbyists. It’s the people of Georgia.”

Raffensperger is a structural engineer and licensed general contractor. “I own two manufacturing plants in Georgia, and I have worked on construction projects all over the United States,” he said. “I have seen first hand how some states make it easy to do business and some states make it hard. As your next secretary of state, my job is to make it easy to do business in the state of Georgia.”

State Rep. Brad Raffensperger

Raffensperger, a former Johns Creek city councilman, said he is the only person running for secretary of state who has a 100 percent voting record from the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

“Look back on my legislative and city council voting record and you will find I’ve always tried to protect the small business owner, taxpayers, life and the second amendment,” Raffensperger stated.

 

 

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

From left, Tim Satterfield, Mike Berg, Sen. Mike Williams and Sen. Steve Gooch.

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Fausett will return for second term on Board of Commissioners

Election 2018

Sharon Fausett

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Qualifying ended at noon today (Friday, March 9). The field is now set for the May 22 General Primary election.

District 1 Dawson County Commissioner Sharon Fausett and Will Wade, the at-large commissioner on the Board of Education, can breathe a little easier today. Both candidates were assured of a return to their respective positions today when no other candidate qualified.

Tim Satterfield

The County Commission District 3 post, where incumbent commissioner Jimmy Hamby chose not to seek another term, will have two candidates, however. Former Deputy Fire Chief Tim Satterfield will campaign for the post. He will face Scott Allen.

District 3 Board of Education member Karen Armstrong will also face a challenge from Joe Stapp, a psychotherapist who is running for the first time.

The state level race has incumbent District 9 State Representative Kevin Tanner (R), of Dawsonville, pitted against Mark Hajduk, of Cumming.

Scott Allen

 

 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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Friday is last day for candidates to qualify

Election 2018

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — UPDATE It was a quiet day at the Dawson County Elections Office Thursday. No one showed up to add their name to the list of qualifiers for the May 22 General Primary. The deadline for anyone who would like to toss their hat into the ring is noon Friday.

There are several races being contested on the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education and there is an important race for Georgia House of Representatives in District 9, where incumbent Kevin Tanner, of Dawsonville, and Mark Hajduk, of Cumming, have qualified.

District 1 County Commissioner Sharon Fausett qualified Wednesday.

Sharon Fausett (I)

In the District 3 Board of Commissioners race, former Dawson County Deputy Fire Chief Tim Satterfield will campaign against Scott Allen.

Tim Satterfield

 

Scott Allen

In the District 3 Board of Education race, Joe Stapp and incumbent Karen Armstrong have qualified. Incumbent Will Wade has qualified to run for the at-large seat.

Joe Stapp

Karen Armstrong (I)

 

Will Wade

The May General Primary will be held May 22, 2018, with a voter registration deadline of April 23.

Qualifying will continue through this week, ending March 9 at noon. All persons wishing to participate as a candidate in the 2018 election will need to qualify by this time.

 

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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