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BOC votes down request from Chestatee developer
FB DCN Government County

Residents of the Chestatee subdivision off Ga. 400 are celebrating a victory after the Dawson County Board of Commissioners voted to deny the subdivision developer’s request to amend the site’s master plan.

Developer Brian Ferris went before the planning commission on May 15, asking to reduce the size of 34 lots in a portion of the subdivision known as Linkside from 100 feet wide to 70 feet wide.

Doing so would allow for 11 additional lots in the Linkside section, which already has 11 lots developed. Ferris said that decreasing the lot size would help him sell the lots faster, but residents were outraged, stating that Ferris would allow cheap homes to be built in the subdivision that did not match the design standards of the rest of Chestatee.

County staff recommended approval of Ferris’ plans, but after public outcry, the planning commission voted to recommend that the board of commissioners deny the request.

After a similar showing of more than 100 Chestatee residents, the board voted June 21 to table any decision until July 3, due to legal ambiguity brought up by Ferris’ lawyer and the county attorney.

Ferris’ lawyer, Ethan Underwood of the Cumming firm Miles Hansford and Tallant, argued Ferris had reserved the right to change lot sizes in the covenants that the homeowners agreed to when they purchased their homes.

Underwood spoke again during the public comment portion of the July 3 meeting.

Underwood said that his client was not coming before the board to change the architectural standards in Chestatee and that building materials would not be modified. He stated Ferris wished only to modify the lot width and reallocate 11 lots into Linkside.

Underwood also said there was nothing in the county’s zoning resolution or Chestatee master plan that would require the board to vote on lot widths in Linkside.

District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby motioned to deny the application and District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines seconded the motion. It was denied unanimously.

In other business:

Laser, radar units purchased for GSP

The board voted unanimously July 3 to allocate $8,890 for equipment for the Georgia State Patrol cars that are assigned to the post that serves Dawson, Forsyth and Lumpkin counties. 

“I was approached a few weeks ago by the GSP requesting some assistance, they have some new hires coming on, graduating in the next few weeks as I understand, and they need some help equipping their cars,” Sheriff Jeff Johnson said at the board’s June 28 work session.

Johnson asked the board to purchase two laser units and two radar units to be given to GSP.

The equipment will be kept in the Dawson County area, and Johnson pointed out that GSP officers consistently assist the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office with traffic incidents and citations.

Data provided by Johnson shows that the GSP investigated 678 car wrecks in 2017, as well as issued 1,954 citations and 3,459 warnings.

Statistics from 2017 show that $141,065.88 was generated by their work, and $83,118.32 of that was paid to the county.

The money for the units will come out of the county’s contingency fund.


More fire hydrants approved

The board also approved an expense of $55,440 for 16 new fire hydrants to be installed in the county this year.

Three hydrants will be added to Nix Bridge Road, four to Overlook Drive, three to Woodland Circle, six to North Seed Tick Road and one on North Seed Tick at Crooked Tree Drive.

The proposal for the new hydrants was presented by Fire Chief Danny Thompson, who said that the new hydrants will allow the county to market themselves as an organization that provides a level of fire suppression for its citizens.

Etowah Water and Sewer Authority is currently expanding their water mains in the area of Nix Bridge, and the expansion will allow for new fire hydrants to be placed for added fire suppression.


Interim EMA director appointed

At the board’s June 28 voting session, Thompson asked the board to appoint Lucas Ray as the interim Emergency Management Agency Director for a period of six months in order to comply with the Georgia Emergency Management Act.

Thompson is currently working toward completing his Certified Emergency manager certification, and requested that Ray be appointed until Thompson can receive his certification.

He also requested that he and Battalion Chief Jason Dooley serve as deputy EMA directors during that time.

“I should have that completed by October,” Thompson said. “This will enable an opportunity for me to get these classes and also for us as a county to be able to maintain our EMA responsibilities. Myself and Dooley will be helping at this time, it will be a shared responsibility for all three of us. (Ray) is 8-5, he’s Monday through Friday, so he’s always accessible to me.”

District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix said that it sounded more reasonable to her to appoint Thompson the director, giving him 24 months to receive the certification instead of the six months.

“I personally think it's important that we appoint somebody who already has the certification,” Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said.

Both Ray and Dooley are already certified for the position.

“He can do what he needs to do in six months,” Thurmond said. 

The board voted unanimously to appoint Thompson as the EMA director.