What: Public hearing on Gainesville’s plan to annex a section of Interstate 985 near Oakwood and part of McEver Road near Gould Drive
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St.
On Thursday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners will open the floor for Gainesville officials and anyone else who wishes to speak about the city’s annexation.
The commission voted to schedule a public hearing for Thursday on Gainesville’s proposed annexation of two pieces of roadway. The plan has sparked public debate during the past few weeks.
The Gainesville Police Department has requested annexation of a section of Interstate 985 near Oakwood and part of McEver Road near Gould Drive.
Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks sent a letter to Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper on March 17, copied to several other local officials, accusing Gainesville of annexing the properties for the sole purpose of generating revenue through speeding tickets.
The commissioners voted 4-1 at Monday’s work session to compile a list of questions to present to city officials at the hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday as part of the commission’s regular meeting. The public will also be able to comment on the issue.
Commissioners Bobby Banks and Tom Oliver voted for the hearing, while Billy Powell and Steve Gailey agreed to go along with what the others wanted.
“It’s a great way for the citizens of the county to get answers to these questions,” Oliver said.
Commissioner Ashley Bell voted against the public hearing on the grounds that it was only about the annexation and no other topics would be discussed. Bell, whose district encompasses Gainesville, was also concerned that an official invitation had yet been to be extended to city officials.
Some City Council members were unsure of the commission’s intent.
“I don’t see the point in it,” said Councilman Danny Dunagan, though he plans to attend. “We annexed some other stuff in December ... and they didn’t say anything then.”
But others think the public hearing will provide a healthy, open forum for discussion between the two governments.
“I’m just delighted they’re going have it,” said Councilman Bob Hamrick. “Anytime you can have communication between the two groups, it’s always beneficial to the people we represent.”