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Annexation may lead to arbitration
Two governments disagree on eligibility
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The Dawsonville City Council and the Dawson County commission may be heading for arbitration over a disputed piece of property on Hwy. 136.

After the final required public hearing on the matter Monday night, the city council voted 4-0 to annex the 5-acre parcel.

The decision came despite continued objections from Dawson County Attorney Joey Homans.

At issue is whether the disputed property is eligible for annexation per a prior agreement between the two governments.

Citing state law, the city contends the property in question can be annexed.

The county, however, contends the annexation violates a 2007 deal between the two sides on 1-cent sales tax revenue.

"[The property] isn't located within the area that we agreed could be annexed," Homans said.

"That's why an objection was filed to begin with and why we will be heading to arbitration if we cannot reach a resolution."

Owned by Nalita Y. Copeland and William W. Whittington, the property at 106 Hwy. 136 East is across the street from the city limits and borders the county on its other three sides.

According to City Attorney Kevin J. Tallant, the site qualifies under the Georgia state code concerning annexations.

"It would be a shame for Dawson County to go through the time and expense of an annexation objection process when none of the county's grounds for objection fall within what the Georgia code recognizes as valid," Tallant said in response to Homans' objection.

Just as the city has annexation rights per state law, Commissioner Gary Pichon said, the county has rights according to the sales tax agreement.

"The city has the right to approve the annexation per state law," Pichon said. "And we have the right to impose the contract we signed with the city."

Homans said the dispute resolution process has begun with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

"The DCA will start the process, so I would think that in a few months we will appear in front of an arbitration panel," Homans said. "In the meantime, I will continue to converse with the city attorney to make sure they understand our objections and concerns over the annexation.

"Hopefully, we can find some overlapping agreements concerning the annexation and then go from there and resolve the matter between ourselves. But if not, then we will appear before the arbitration panel and present our objections and concerns."