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Ad error leads to delay of Gainesville annexation hearings
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Two public hearings have been postponed that would have given 59 Gainesville "islanders" the chance to voice opinions of a proposed annexation of their properties.

City officials said they called off the hearings, set for Tuesday, because of an error in an advertisement in a state-required advertisement of the hearings.

City Council was set to vote on the proposed annexation Tuesday evening after two public hearings, one that would have occurred at a 9 a.m. meeting of the Planning and Appeals Board, and another at the council’s 5:30 p.m. meeting the same day.

But the advertisement the city placed in The Times incorrectly said the hearings would occur Monday. The date of the hearings, Sept. 1, was correct in the ad.

Now, city officials say they do not know when the hearings will occur.

Community Development Director Rusty Ligon, who oversees the city’s planning and zoning department, said it is up to the council to decide how to proceed.

State law requires the city to complete the annexation process within 30 days of notifying the affected property owners, Ligon said. For this annexation, the 30-day deadline is Sept. 16.

A news release from the city said it would have to start over with the 30-day notification process to comply with state and local regulations.

"The council is still interested in moving forward with this issue and is currently reviewing its options on rescheduling the hearing," the release said.

The city will send letters to affected property owners today notifying them that Tuesday’s hearings have been postponed, Ligon said. City employees also will be present Tuesday at the Georgia Mountains Center to let people know that the hearings have been postponed.

Councilman Robert "Bob" Hamrick said the council will have to vote to re-initiate the annexation. It is possible the vote could occur at the council’s next meeting, set for Tuesday evening, Hamrick said.

"I’m just estimating now that’s the protocol it will be," Hamrick said.

The proposed annexation has drawn public opposition from Hall County officials. The Board of Commissioners held its own public hearing on the proposal earlier this month and vowed to do what it could "administratively and judicially" to fight any plan of the city’s to annex the properties.

If it moves forward, the annexation will include in the city limits "island" properties on gateway corridors: Thompson Bridge Road, Browns Bridge Road, Dawsonville Highway, Cleveland Highway and Atlanta Highway.

Other members of the City Council did not return calls seeking comment by press time.