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Annexation battle resolved
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Dawson County commissioners agreed last week to back away from an annexation battle with the city of Dawsonville.

The two governments have been at odds since the city filed several petitions on behalf of residents seeking to have their properties annexed.

"We've spent a lot of effort for a long time and the law is clearly with [the city]," said Commissioner Gary Pichon.

Pichon made the motion that the county will not proceed with further litigation against the city over the disputed annexations.

The 4-0 vote followed discussion of a letter from the city offering a compromise in the matter.

According to the letter from City Attorney Kevin Tallant, Dawsonville would seek the county's input on proposed land uses if any of the property owners in question ask to rezone their land.

"This is, I believe you will agree, an accommodating gesture by the city since ... even if the county's objections are ultimately proven to be valid, and even if an arbitration panel sides with the county and imposes zoning restrictions, those restrictions would only limit the city's zoning for one year at the most," Tallant wrote.

The issue surfaced earlier this year after city officials made plans to annex dozens of properties as a housekeeping measure.

Councilman James Grogan said he discovered several unincorporated islands, parcels nearly surrounded by city property, while he was campaigning for office two years ago.

"I'd knock on one door, then I'd go to the neighbor's house and find out they weren't in the city limits," he said at the time.

It didn't make sense to him or the residents with whom he spoke, Grogan said.

Subsequent annexation requests - from residents whose properties were adjacent to the city limits but not considered unincorporated islands - triggered the county's objections.

County Attorney Joey Homans contended the city's decision to annex those properties violated a 2007 sales tax agreement between the governments.

The two sides were headed to arbitration before the agreement last week.

Had the issue gone to arbitration, the county would have been responsible for at least 75 percent of the costs.

Mayor Joe Lane Cox said Monday he was glad they were able to work it out.

"We gave a little and they gave a little, and we were able to come to an agreement," he said.