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Two property owners want to take city's incentive to annex

City Council to decide in March

POSTED: February 10, 2009 11:57 p.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Donald Westmoreland, owner of this Stringer Avenue home, is asking the City Council to approve annexing five homes on Hilltop Street and Stringer Avenue in order to use city sewer. Gainesville's Planning and Appeals Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of his request Tuesday.

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Two owners of property in unincorporated islands of Hall County have asked to bring their land into Gainesville’s city limits.

So far, they’ve both been met with open arms.

The city’s planning and appeals board voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the City Council approve two separate annexation requests. The two property owners now face the City Council, which will make the final decision in March.

“I don’t anticipate any great controversy with that,” planning board Chairman Dean Dadisman said with a laugh Tuesday.

The two property owners requesting annexation, Donald Westmoreland and Gainesville Church of God, are the first to take advantage of an 18-month incentive program to bring owners of “island” properties into the city limits following an unsuccessful attempt to annex all county islands.

The incentive is a waiver of approximately $850 in sewer connection and administrative fees if property owners annex by June 2010. A $500 annexation fee always is waived for unincorporated islands.

The incentive program is the city’s diplomatic approach.

The City Council proposed annexing all unincorporated islands in November, but dropped the idea after hearing from angry property owners who did not want to pay higher taxes in exchange for city services.

In December, Gainesville’s Planning Director Rusty Ligon sent a letter to the 561 property owners inviting them to annex voluntarily, offering to waive sewer and annexation fees.

Three property owners responded to the letter in January; one, Elora Stargel, withdrew her request Tuesday. At least two more property owners will come before the planning board with annexation requests in March, Ligon said.

“We wanted to give them ample opportunity to come into the city if that’s what they wanted to do,” Ligon said.

Both Westmoreland, who owns five homes on Hilltop Road and Stringer Avenue, and officials from the Browns Bridge Road church told the planning board Tuesday that they were seeking annexation to use city sewer.

Their requests were met with no opposition from neighbors or planning board members.



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