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City may condemn land
Council seeks commons area
1 Condemnation pic
The Dawsonville City Council has voted to condemn parking lots at the corner of Shoal Creek Road and Hwy. 9 after unsuccessful attempts to contact the property owner. The county will no longer need the space after the new courthouse opens. - photo by Frank Reddy Dawson Community News

Calvin Byrd said Dawsonville officials have spoken with downtown merchants and polled visitors.

 

“One of the main issues we keep hearing is we don’t have enough parking for downtown,” said Byrd, a city councilman.

 

With the pending opening of the new county courthouse, officials view the two lots at Shoal Creek Road and Hwy. 9 as “kind of the perfect place” for additional parking and a small commons area.

 

But it appears that plan likely will involve having to condemn the land, since the city has been unable to negotiate with property owner Jeffery Coe of Marietta.

 

“We’ve called the numbers that are available, and when he answers the phone he won’t talk,” said Mayor Joe Lane Cox.

 

On Jan. 18, the council voted 4-0 to offer Coe the appraised amount for the lots, which the county leases for parking but won’t need after the new courthouse opens in the fall.

 

As of Tuesday, the city had not heard back from Coe. Cox said officials planned to move forward with condemnation.

 

“We ain’t going to go backward on this,” he said.

 

Municipalities may use the power of eminent domain to transfer property from its private owner to the government for public use.

 

Coe could not be reached for comment. It could not be determined whether he has an attorney.

 

The former owner of the lots, K.K. Turner of Dawson County, said he “didn’t know anything about it.”

 

It’s not the first time local government has tried to condemn the lots.

 

In July 2008, Dawson County pursued condemnation to make way for the new courthouse.

 

County Commissioner Mike Berg said leaders chose not to pursue the matter after talking with the property owners.

 

Berg said the county had initially wanted to own the parking lot, rather than lease it.

 

“When I got in office, I said let’s try to buy that or let’s get a firm contract,” Berg said.

 

County Attorney Joey Homans said the property owners ultimately “negotiated a purchase of other land ... in an alternate proposal to the county.”

 

The county then canceled its plans to condemn the lots. Now, the city wants them.

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