A Dawsonville City Council member resigned his seat Tuesday after council members voted to deny his request to have property annexed into the city.
City Council members Angie Smith, Mike Sosebee, and Jason Power voted unanimously Monday night to deny the annexation requests of Council Member Chris Gaines and two of his potential neighbors in the Pigeon Creek subdivision in Dawson County.
Gaines posted a message on social media Tuesday morning announcing his resignation.
It is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation from my seat on the Dawsonville City Council effective Tuesday, November 4th due to my decision that I feel is best for my family to move to a house outside the city limits of Dawsonville, Gaines wrote.
Georgia law states that city council members must live within city limits.
We have received and accepted his resignation, Mayor James Grogan said Tuesday. I understand why he had to do it.
Grogan stated the city council will appoint someone to fill the remainder of Gaines term, which ends December 31, 2015, and that the person would need to run for election if they choose.
Right now, we dont have anyone in mind, Grogan said.
Gaines and two of his potential neighbors in the Pigeon Creek subdivision, off Shoal Creek Road, petitioned the city for annexation Sept. 26. Gaines has a property in the subdivision under contract. Its property owners, Steve and Malissa Coleman signed the annexation request with Gaines and his wife, Jessica.
In a vote that seemed to surprise some people, council member Angie Smith made a motion to deny the applications, a motion seconded by long-time Dawsonville resident and council member Mike Sosebee. Council member Jason Power, who took office in January 2012, agreed with his colleagues, making the vote against the annexations unanimous. Gaines, by law, had to recuse himself from the vote.
Had the council voted differently, the Pigeon Creek subdivision would have been split apart with three properties in the city and the remaining 48 in the county.
I have to say I am not a big proponent of these spot annexations, Smith said. I dont want us to make the same mistakes we made in the past.
Smith was referring to a previous councils approval of a partial annexation of the Gold Creek subdivision off Highway 136 in Dawson County.
The problem with these (Pigeon Creek) annexations is were doing the exact same thing we did in Gold Creek, she said. Wed be creating a subdivision that is divided. I dont want us to repeat mistakes from the past.
During the public hearing portion of the city council meeting, John Stegall, a property owner in Pigeon Creek, said he was against the annexations.
I have a simple and direct question Id like to ask the council to answer for me, Stegall said. Why would the city want to annex a few properties in a self-contained subdivision without annexing the entire subdivision? I believe our subdivision should be entirely in or entirely out; whichever way it goes is fine.
Pigeon Creek resident James Watson spoke in favor of the annexations.
We have (city) property that borders us on the north and south side, he said. We like to have a little bit of control of whats going on in the border properties around us. Weve invested our lifes savings in the property.
According to county property records, without Watsons and Waddys annexations, Gaines potential property would have become an incorporated island, forbidden by Georgia law.
The council also voted unanimously to approve three annexation requests from property owners in the Gold Creek subdivision off Highway 136: David and Beverly James, Jon and Sarah Steiner and Kenneth and Barbara Vermillion.
In Gold Creek, in my view, we are simply rounding out and fixing, Smith said. Whether you agreed when Gold Creek was annexed, we are now stuck with it. In the past two years, weve said that a lot and were trying to remedy that.
Those annexations, however, are conditional because of objections to them from Dawson County.
The county has not withdrawn its objections, City Attorney Dana Miles said. The annexations are approved conditionally. ... We will go through state law-mandated arbitration panel procedure.
Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg said an arbitration panel is not imminent.
The county voted to deny requests, but before the arbitration process, we have an opportunity as a board to talk about that, Berg said. And I suspect well want to talk about it. It is likely the board will discuss the issue at its next work session, Nov. 13.
Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan commented on the annexation issues, saying he wanted to set the record straight.
Were not running rampant with annexations, he said. Were not trying to annex the county. Weve had 12 since 2012. In each of those, a property owner came to us and asked us if they could be part of the city. It is our duty as a city to take the application and process that application. And thats what weve done.
Grogan noted that of the 12 annexation requests the city has received, nine were less than five acres, one was 13 acres, and two others were 24 and 26 acres.
There are 214 square miles of county, Grogan said. And there are 8.3 square miles of the city, less than 4 percent. We are a minute part of the whole thing.
He said he is a firm believer in personal property rights.
Unless theyre doing something illegal or harmful to people close to them or to the community, a person should be able to do what they want with their property, Grogan said. There are some restrictions to that, but at the same time, a person that wants to come in should be allowed to come in if thats what they choose. If they choose not to, thats fine, too. Were not going to press it in any way.
Its up to the individual to decide that. I want to set the record straight on this, from our standpoint, because what I read is totally different from what is.