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Commissioner questions annexation

POSTED: August 20, 2014 4:00 a.m.

A request to annex nearly 37 acres into Dawsonville has one Dawson County commissioner questioning the motives of city leaders.

"Why is the city shaped like this and why would the leadership of a city want to take on even more responsibility for more far-flung territory? I believe that it is about money and votes," said District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon.

Pichon has been vocal with his discontent regarding Dawsonville's annexation practices, saying the city's shape, which he describes as "spider-legged," branches too far from the main body of downtown.

County resident Byron Hutson has petitioned to annex his property at 367 and 333 Duck Thurmond Road into the city. Hutson's land touches the site of Atlanta Motorsports Park, which is in Dawsonville.

While Hutson could not be reached for comment, he did indicate on his application that there are no plans to change, demolish, move or convert the two buildings there.

In 2011, Hutson petitioned to annex the property but later withdrew the application. This time around, the matter goes before the city council on Sept. 6 and Oct. 6.

Pichon did not specifically voice opposition to Hutson's annexation application during the commission's meeting last week. His concerns, he said, were directed at municipal leadership.

"Now, a city is normally thought of as a high concentration of people which is serviced by a city government for the things which allow high density of population," he said. "Water lines, sewer lines, police, fire protection, land-use planning, garbage collection and disposal, parks and open space, noise ordinances, shooting ordinances, animal control, smoke and odor controls and others. I do not see this when I look at Dawsonville."

The city's continued effort to not tax its residents on property, while receiving portions of the county's sales tax revenue, is also an issue for Pichon, he said.

He called Dawsonville a "welfare city," unlike neighboring county seats in Lumpkin, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Cherokee and Hall counties, which collect from 3 to 7 mills of property tax to fund services.

"The city of Dawsonville collects zero," he said. "The city of Dawsonville lives off the [local option sales tax] and [special purpose local option sales tax] funds, which are generated primarily from the 400 corridor area, an area serviced by county funds. The city of Dawsonville spends no money to support that area of high density.

"So from a money standpoint, the more territory in the city, the more of other peoples' money the city leadership can claim so they can pay themselves."

According to Pichon, it's easy to see why a property owner would want to be annexed.

"They don't have to pay any more for the privilege than being in the county," he said. "And a few hundred citizens get to set the agenda so that they get more and more of the money.

"People out in the county don't get a say about the land development next door to them. They don't get to vote for the mayor or council members. It really is taxation without representation. It is government without representation."

The county commission will revisit the annexation request during a meeting Thursday.

 

 

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