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.
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