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City presented alternative
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A month after Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan announced the city had interest in developing a regional reservoir with Georgia Reservoir Co., a Lumpkin County resident floated what she contends is a better plan.

Speaking on behalf of the Etowah Hills Corporation, Rebecca Reeves Carter urged the council Monday night to consider an alternative to Georgia Reservoir Co.'s proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir.

"[Etowah Hills] is not the ideal plan," she said. "The ideal plan is no reservoir and for no one to lose their homes. But this is an alternative to what has been presented."

Carter said the Etowah Hills Reservoir plan was created in hopes of blocking the Calhoun Creek project, which she claims will displace families living in the area of Hwy. 9 near the Dawson-Lumpkin County line.

Etowah Hills, which she said would serve as an emergency reservoir rather than a regional water supply source, could be built on fewer acres and designed with the least amount of impact on neighboring homes and the environment.

By comparison, the Etowah Hills dam would be 650 feet wide by 120 feet tall to create a 225-acre lake, while the Calhoun Creek proposal calls for a dam 2,000 feet wide by 230 feet tall and a 450-acre lake.

"I've been told [Calhoun Creek Reservoir] won't take my home, but it will be disastrous to my life," she said after the meeting. "It will affect so many people in Lumpkin and Dawson counties, and a whole lot of people in [the] Auraria [community]."

According to Carter, the Etowah Hills plan, like the Calhoun Creek project, would be funded through grants and bonds, though she declined to provide an estimated cost for the project when council asked.

While the city took no action on the proposal, Grogan was complimentary of Carter's presentation.

"She did a good job presenting her concept of her reservoir," he said. "It is the responsibility of the council to look, hear and see all proposals of the reservoir.

"We, as the mayor and city council, must make a decision based on revenue and the residents' water needs as it relates to all of our citizens."

Later in the meeting, council voted unanimously to apply for a grant through One Georgia that would cover the cost of a feasibility study for the proposed Calhoun Creek reservoir.

In February, Grogan announced the city had applied for two surface water withdrawal permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

If approved, the permits would allow the city to pull water from the Etowah River and store it in the proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir.

Grogan called the permit applications "the next step in securing a reliable source of water for the residents of Dawsonville well into the future and providing storage for use by our neighbors."

The city of Dawsonville was the first government entity to align with Georgia Reservoir Co. on the project, which was also pitched to officials in Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties.

The city council met with representatives from Georgia Reservoir Co. during a closed portion of its December meeting.

Last month, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens' office received an anonymous complaint, questioning whether the city had complied with the state open meetings act when officials held that closed executive session.

In a letter to the city, Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter said the office will not take action on the matter.

"Due to the anonymous nature of the complaint and the fact that no vote appears to have been taken, we are not proceeding further on this matter," he wrote.

Ritter did caution the city that the attorney general's office would monitor the situation.

City Attorney Dana Miles responded to Ritter's letter, saying the executive session was held to discuss land acquisition.

"No vote was taken other than to properly close the executive session following [the Georgia Reservoir Co.] presentation, go back into regular session and there being no business to conduct adjourn the monthly meeting by unanimous vote following proper motion and second," Miles wrote.

The attorney general's inquiry was not mentioned during the open portion of Monday's meeting.