County commissioners have approved a resolution that opposes using state or federal money to finance a reservoir project supported by the City of Dawsonville.
The project, known as Calhoun Creek Reservoir, calls for a dam 2,000 feet wide by 220 feet tall, and a 590-acre lake. By comparison, Buford Dam, which holds back Lake Lanier, is 1,630 feet wide.
"We think at this point for this board to offer resolution against this project is premature," said Scott Cole, an attorney for Georgia Reservoir Company. "GEFA (Georgia Environmental Finance Authority) is still moving through the vetting process."
Cole said he understood there was a concern the project would compete with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority's plans for a reservoir known as the Russell Creek Reservoir. But he didn't think that would be the case.
"This is more of a regional project that would have regional participants..., whereas the Russell Creek project is more of a local project," Cole said.
But Cole was the sole supporter to speak about the project.
Auraria resident Katie Klemenchich told commissioners she thought the resolution was a good one. She said her hope and the hope of nearby landowners she had spoken with is that the land for the reservoir would be preserved.
"This place that we call Auraria is very important to a lot of people," Klemenchich said. "It's sacred to a lot of people. Indians have lived there for hundreds of years. The Trail of Tears started there; so did the first gold rush."
Klemenchich told commissioners she believed the reservoir would change the community's way of life. "The reservoir would trample our rights to live the way we want to live, the way we chose to live," she said.
She also expressed concern over the dangers a reservoir could bring. "We saw what happened at Lake Lanier last year," Klemenchich said. "We saw the deaths, we saw the accidents, we heard the loud noise.
"We want Auraria to stay the way it is."
Lumpkin County resident Tim Anderson told commissioners he supported the resolution because he was unable to vote against city council members who are pushing for the reservoir since he doesn't live in Dawsonville.
Anderson said the City of Dawsonville is trying to take 40 acres of his family's property for the reservoir.
"I represent my daddy who owns 40 acres of land the City of Dawsonville are trying to take. ... I don't have the opportunity to vote against the people who run the City of Dawsonville."
Anderson said he doesn't have anything against someone trying to make money, except when it infringes on his property.
"I don't think any taxpayer money should be spent on this," Anderson said. "I don't have anything against anyone wanting to make money, but you're trying to take our land to do it and we don't want that. The land's not for sale; it's never been for sale."
District-1 Commissioner Gary Pichon, who initiated the resolution, also talked about the reservoir.
First, he told commissioners he didn't think another reservoir was needed.
"Etowah Water and Sewer has already spent money for Russell Creek, a reservoir just like the proposed Calhoun Creek. We do not need to keep spending money to replicate the same thing," he said.
Pichon also said he didn't understand that if the reservoir was a good deal, why the private companies involved would want to seek out state or federal funding.
"If this is such a good deal, why should not the private parties write the whole check and receive the whole of the benefit? he asked. If they want it, let them pay for it."
Pichon, James Swafford and Jimmy Hamby all voted to support the resolution. Commissioner Julie Nix was absent.
Chris Dockery said that Lumpkin County commissioners, which he chairs, will not address the Calhoun Creek project until they are approached about it.
"Our board pretty well takes the position that we're not going to address it (Calhoun Creek Reservoir) by resolution or any other way until somebody approaches us about the project," Dockery said. "We're not out looking for things to do."