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Council rescinds approval

POSTED: March 14, 2012 4:00 a.m.

It appears the Forester family must wait until at least next month before adding animals to their farm.

After approving the family's deannexation request last week, Dawsonville City Council has since released a statement explaining that the 2-1 vote in favor was premature.

According to city policies, council can vote only after the second reading of a petition. Last week, it voted after the first.

The city explained the situation in a letter to the Foresters, who believed the 30-acre site on Hwy. 9 North had been returned to unincorporated Dawson County, where chickens are allowed on property zoned residential-agricultural.

Per a March 2011 ordinance, agricultural businesses that could be a nuisance to residents are prohibited in the city.

"Our family was shocked when we heard. We thought this was over. We just want closure," said Jack Forester, who must now wait until April 2 to see if he gets approval.

At last week's council meeting City Attorney Dana Miles advised the council against approving the Foresters' deannexation request. He explained it "sends a dangerous message to the public."

"I expressed that the risk of approving a deannexation in a case like this, where Mr. Forester and his wife couldn't develop the property in the city in the way they wanted to, is that it tells the public that if the rules don't suit you then you just deannex," Miles said after last week's meeting.

Forester has said he and his family want to grow and raise their own food, including hens for fresh eggs on the property north of downtown. They may someday add cattle, horses, rabbits, sheep, dairy goats, honeybees and possibly pigs.

"[Our farm] will be on hold again for another month," he said. "I guess we will have to wait for approval again to get our animals."

The Foresters began inquiring about the matter in October.

The site, which had been annexed into the city in 2005, went into foreclosure in early 2011. It was then acquired by United Community Bank.

The Foresters didn't learn the property was in the city until after beginning the process to acquire it from the bank. They then went ahead and bought it, hoping to work something out with the city.

Now Forester and his family can only wait for the next meeting.

"It is a little confusing that they voted, but that it's not finished," Forester said. "Hopefully, it will get passed again without too much resistance."

The council is scheduled to hear the matter at 5 p.m. April 2 in city hall, 415 Highway 53 East, Dawsonville.

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