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Arbitration likely in annexation dispute
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City officials on Monday said arbitration would be the next step in a more than four month dispute with the Dawson County Board of Commissioners over an annexation request.

Byron Hutson, who lives on Duck Thurmond Road across from Atlanta Motorsports Park, has requested to have his property annexed into the city. Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan calls the matter "a simple annexation to begin with."

At issue was the more than $31,000 in road repairs county crews made on Duck Thurmond Road near the property.

The county has asked the city to assume sole responsibility of the roadway beginning at the intersection of Hwy. 53 "to avoid hazardous safety conditions that will develop with reasonable certainty if the county and city have separate maintenance responsibility for the same right of way/road."

In response, Grogan said the city agreed to use the .35 miles of roadway in accordance with an intergovernmental deal with the county to pave a one-mile stretch of city road per year.

At that point, he said the city council was under the impression that the matter had already been resolved.

"Usually when someone makes a proposal to somebody and you agree to that proposal, it's a done deal," he said.

According to Grogan, the county now wants to exchange the .35 miles for the full mile, thus leaving the contractual obligation for road paving fulfilled for the year.

"Rather than keep battling back and forth and delaying...I would suggest to you that we need to go ahead and agree that we go ahead and send this on to arbitration and instruct Attorney [Dana] Miles to start that process," Grogan told the council at Monday night's meeting.

County Attorney Joey Homans said the cost to repair the .35 miles of rural road is estimated to be equivalent to the amount the county would spend on repairing or repaving one mile of downtown city streets.

In a 3-0 vote, with Councilman Jason Power recusing himself from the discussions, as Hutson is his father-in-law, the council agreed to move forward with the annexation.

Under state law, the county would be required to pay at least 75 percent of the cost of arbitration proceedings, while the remaining amount could be assessed against the county if it is found that "they have acted furiously in asserting its objections to this petition."