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Hall County still pressing Gainesville to annex 'islands'

City unwilling to incorporate more ‘islands’ from county

POSTED: August 13, 2014 1:19 a.m.

Hall County officials are still jabbing at Gainesville’s decision to annex unincorporated “islands” last year, asking the city for an update on its plans with regard to additional properties.

But, as previously reported in The Times, Gainesville has no intention of annexing more islands.

An island is a property in unincorporated Hall County that is encircled by property within the Gainesville city limits.

The city has annexed more than 100 of these properties, encompassing mostly commercial businesses.

Hall County officials were critical of the move.

“They kept saying it wasn’t about revenue, but it was about revenue,” Commissioner Scott Gibbs told The Times on Tuesday.

City officials said the annexations were done to clear up boundary lines and establish uniform zoning standards.

“As you know, there are approximately 390 parcels that make up unincorporated islands within Hall County,” Randy Knighton, county administrator, wrote in a letter to Gainesville officials this week. “Annexing the remaining island parcels has the potential to assist both governments in streamlining their respective boundaries and associated service provision.”

But city officials confirmed again this week that the financial cost of annexing mostly residential properties could reach into the millions of dollars and is unsustainable at this time.

“It will cost us more than we’ll take in through tax revenues,” Councilman George Wangemann said.

Meanwhile, the county continues to provide public safety and other services to these remaining residential areas.

County officials say Gainesville has exacerbated the problem by not annexing the additional islands, creating a situation where services are being duplicated or provided inefficiently.

“They basically created more islands,” Gibbs said. “We’re having to provide services to an area where there are two houses or three houses.”

Wangemann said these concerns are overblown and that it remains impractical to annex more islands.



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