A February discussion that led the Dawsonville City Council down the road of not just creating new policy, but attempting to oust Mayor James Grogan came to a head at Monday's voting session when the council decided to instate an annexation fee in addition to making changes to the rezoning fee schedule.
The council also added language that addresses islands, such as the 72 Gold Creek neighborhood parcels that have been left out of the city.
Gold Creek residents at the council's May 22 work session said that they had issues with not being in the city while having neighbors on all sides that were.
When Gold Creek was created, it was annexed into the city as a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, so that it could include a golf course and restaurant, as well as residences.
But only part of the subdivision was annexed, leaving property owners perplexed and left to fight a years-long battle with the city over annexing in one by one.
Residents at the meeting said their main motivation to annexing into the city was to make sure they had a voice in any future zoning issues, giving an extreme example such as if the developer came back and decided to put a trailer park in the center of the golf course.
Records from City Clerk Bonnie Warne show that property owners who have annexed into the city in Gold Creek have come in as PUD, but have not paid the $500 plus $50 per additional acre that was required in the rezoning fee schedule.
They have instead paid $250 (or less), another issue that property owners brought up at the July 10 meeting, citing how unfair it would be for them to have to pay the whole $500 plus PUD fee as well as a $250 annexation fee.
Gold Creek Resident Chris Duncan said the he felt the owners of island property were the only ones being penalized by the new fees.
"It feels like we're the whipping board for the learning curve," Duncan said.
Council member Angie Smith said that the vote before the council was to approve the ordinance that allows a change or reduction in fees, and that reductions couldn't be approved for Gold Creek residents until the amendment was made.
"You look at it as us penalizing you, I look at it as the procedure of the city council has been grossly mishandled in the past...we are left to clean up right now, what I feel like, was missteps in the past, so in order to clean those up and make sure those things don't happen again, everyone has to be on even footing," Smith said. "This is our attempt to clean up everything, and then to address how your specific situation fits in."
The amendment will allow owners of islands wishing to be annexed into the city, who apply in a group of at least five or more properties, to go before the council and ask for a reduced rate. If no adjustment is made by council, the regular fee schedule applies.
In other business:
Maple Street townhomes
The council tabled a proposed amendment to zoning stipulations from Mississippi developer Len Reeves, who plans to utilize two plots of land in Dawsonville for a townhome development.
Results of a recent Maple Street traffic study review by the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission found there would be little impact to the traffic in the area with the addition of the 54 housing units.
Reeves has asked the council to remove language that keeps him from marketing the proposed nine acres development to occupants of all ages, instead of just active adults as outlined by current stipulations.
However, after a discussion Monday, council member Caleb Phillips said he would feel more comfortable if Reeves and Planning Director Casey Majewski sat down to finalize stipulations before the request is brought back to the council Sept. 11.
DDA board member vacancies
The council voted to fill three vacant board seats on the Downtown Development Authority. Kevin Hammond, Misty Moore and Tim Costley were appointed to the board, joining Chair Jeremy Porter and members Gordon Pirkle, Keith Stone and Mike Sosebee.
Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting
The council voted to accept an award for excellence in financial reporting from the Georgia Government Finance Officers Association, or GFOA. City Clerk Bonnie Warne was not in attendance to accept the award for the city's fiscal year 2016 comprehensive annual financial report, but the mayor made sure to recognize Warne for excelling at her job.
Deputy City Clerk
The council voted to approve a new position of Deputy City Clerk along with a job description. Beverly Bannister, formerly the city utility billing clerk, will fill the position.