The Woodstock City Council voted 5-0 to annex three residential lots in the Kingsridge subdivision of Cherokee County. The annexed property will allow Hennessy Honda to build a car-storage parking lot there after it buys the houses and demolishes them. The dealership threatened to move taking nearly $900,000 in local tax money with it.
Residents have fought Hennessy Honda’s plan since last year when the dealer, Georgia’s second largest, announced it would purchase two acres of lots in Kingsridge, which abuts Woodstock. These neighbors feared it would set a precedent for commercial encroachment into subdivisions and that the parking lot would lower their house values. They made their arguments before the city planning commission, which recommended 7-0 that the city deny the annexation. However, the city council approved it 5-0.
The Cherokee County board of commissioners also opposed the annexation but decided not to challenge it legally because it didn’t believe the issue was reversible.
DeKalb state legislators will review plans for the cities of Decatur and Avondale to meet at Sam’s Crossing, with 10 properties becoming part of Decatur and 22 going to Avondale. Since 1999, business and property owners within these proposed areas have defeated the cities’ efforts to annex three times.
The owners haven’t changed their stance, but state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield said she is “encouraged” by talks with DeKalb’s 20 other House members who might support a vote. Ten delegation signatures are required for a House vote.
“We are getting an early start this year,” Benfield said. “I’ve been optimistic that this is the year.”
The DeKalb delegation will review the plan at its next meeting.
Fort Oglethorpe recently annexed 60 acres near the junction of Scruggs Road, Interstate 75 and Cloud Springs Road in Catoosa County for a secretive project code-named “Project Hilltop”. Fort Oglethorpe rezoned the newly annexed property from residential to commercial to allow for the development of restaurants and shopping complexes.
Randall Peters, chairman of the Catoosa Development Authority, declined to reveal specifics of the project, say-ing the company that the county is working with has requested “strict confidentiality” until a formal announcement can be made.
Peters could not reveal what type of company the county is working with on the project.
He said the announcement concerning what the project will consist of could be made as early as January.
The City of Johns Creek filed suit against the nonprofit Autrey Mill Nature Preserve Association Board that runs Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Centerto take over the 46 acres of recreation and green space located on Autrey Mill Road. The City inherited the lease in January 2007 when it bought the park from Fulton County. The nonprofit has operated the park for 20 years.
“Our primary concern centers around the Association’s original lease with Fulton County and an amendment executed July 19, 2006, the day after the successful referendum vote on [Johns Creek] incorporation,” city spokesman Bill Doughty typed in an email sent to concerned residents who have contacted the city about the lawsuit.
The City contends the lease is illegal, but there is more to it.
“We own the park, we own the liability, so we should at least have some say about appropriate activities happening at the park,” Mayor Mike Bodker said.
The nonprofit has fired back.
“In these times with money short everywhere, we were shocked that the City is spending taxpayers’ dollars and forcing Autrey Mill’s nonprofit Board to divert our limited resources into a court fight,” [board member Joan] Compton said. “We are ready and able to defend Autrey Mill from a hostile takeover, but we continue to prefer to negotiate with the city and resolve our differences in a principled way.”
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center posts Q & A’s here going on the offensive against the City and the lawsuit.
Q) Were you expecting to be sued by the City?
A) No, we were totally shocked. . . .
Residents in the Cherokee Hills, Oakcliff Estates and Sequoyah Woods subdivisions overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to become part of Doraville. Seventy-nine percent opposed the second annexation vote – which would have boosted Doraville’s population by about 65 percent to 17,000 residents.
The November annexation vote failed by just 34 votes, but was marred by ballot problems, prompting the second vote.
After admitting irregularities in the November 4 vote, DeKalb County agreed to allow voters in three neighborhoods just outside Doraville a second vote again next month on whether to join the northern DeKalb County city. The settlement agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by Eleanor Crane and is subject to approval of DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter.
If approved by Judge Hunter, the new annexation vote will occur on January 27. In the previous vote, the annexation appeared to have succeeded at first, but then failed by 34 votes out of 1,138 cast.
Carterville initiated a move to annex properties located within the doughnut holes into the city and over the past two months, property owners have come forward to complete the process.
Three of the applications were for properties that were zoned for mining in the county. The mining operation is located on about 133 acres of land north of East Main Street and South of Center Road.
Chuck Doggett, president of Forty-One Connector, said the mning company, New Riverside Ochre Company, was pleased to become apart of the city and hoped to continue its “low-key” mining within city limits.
The Georgia Supreme Court has again affirmed that a county has standing to sue one of its cities to prevent annexation of unincorporated properties within the county. However, the Supreme Court held that where the annexing city and property owners of annexed property had no present intention to rezone the annexed properties a county can not present sufficient evidence of a threat of harm to obtain interloctutory injunction relief.
Keep read for GZB’s summary of Cherokee County v. City of Holly Springs, Georgia Supreme Court, Case No. S08A0759, decided on September 22, 2008.
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