The Dawsonville City Council is considering adding a fee that could double the cost of annexing into the city for some homeowners as well as allow for those in ‘islands' to annex at no charge.
The council during its Monday work session discussed creating an annexation fee that would supplement the rezoning fee that property owners must pay to come into the city.
The city currently has no annexation fee, but because city and county zoning does not align, those wishing to annex into the city must pay a set, scheduled fee for rezoning.
After issues surfaced in February about discrepancies in previous rezoning fees, the council decided to review the current procedure and elected to consider adding a separate annexation fee.
The council on Monday was presented with a cost calculated by City Clerk Bonnie Warne and City Manager Bob Bolz. The two estimated that it costs approximately $353 to annex property into the city.
After some discussion, Council Member Caleb Phillips said he would like the annexation fee to be set at $250.
"The biggest part of the fee comes in when you have to pay the people on the planning commission to hear it," Phillips said. "I would imagine there would be other stuff on the agenda that could split that cost up some."
Council Member Angie Smith noted to the council that a $250 annexation fee would double the fees for some homeowners who want to come into the city.
According to current ordinances, those wanting to rezone their property to R1, or restricted single-family residential, or R2, or single-family residential, have to pay a fee of $250. With the addition of a new annexation fee, the cost to annex would be $500, or double the cost charged by the city currently.
The maximum rezoning fee that the city has currently is $500 plus $50 for each additional acre. The council during the meeting expressed their intent to keep the current rezoning fees the same, but with one caveat: The council is considering a per-acre fee for all rezoning categories.
Currently only six rezoning categories require the $50 charge per additional acre. If the council decides to add the charge to all rezonings, the remaining 10 categories would also be subject to the rule.
"It's more work for these people and more cost for the city the larger the tract is," said City Attorney Dana Miles. "So if somebody, whether they are existing in the city or annexing into the city, is irrelevant- the rezoning cost for that 50-acre tract is higher than the rezoning cost for a one-acre tract."
Council member Jason Power also suggested that a cap be placed on the per-acre cost. He suggested that property owners be charged the initial rezoning fee, plus $50 each additional acre up to $5,000.
Warne also brought up at the meeting the potential to annex islands at a reduced or no cost to property owners in order to "clean up" parcels that the city isolated through previous annexation.
Miles said that the way the ordinance is written now, if the city initiates an annexation, the annexation would be free for the property owner. The same procedure would have to be followed as normal, but the city council would have to vote to initiate the annexation.
Mayor James Grogan asked that the clerk come up with a list of all the islands within city limits so that the council could address them.
The council is expected to vote on the annexation fee and other changes at its May 1 meeting.