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Business owners show up to oppose annexation
The Hall County Board of Commissioners used large, aerial maps to show the portions of county property the city of Gainesville wants to annex during Thursday evening’s public hearing at the Georgia Mountains Center.

Hall County residents came out to voice their disapproval of forced annexation at a commission meeting Thursday.

The board of commissioners held a public hearing to discuss the details of Gainesville’s proposed annexation and hear from business owners who would be affected.

Gainesville plans to annex roughly 60 pieces of commercial property located in county islands along major city corridors such as Thompson Bridge and Browns Bridge roads and Dawsonville Highway. City officials claim they need to have more control over zoning near city limits.

Geographical Information Systems Manager Mark Lane presented a series of maps that illustrated which properties have been selected for annexation and where they are in relation to other county and city properties.

The majority of the properties are commercial, though they are in county islands that contain residential property.

According to Public Information Officer Nikki Young, there are only two registered voters in all the properties that are being annexed.

Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, also came to speak out against the annexation.

"Annexation is a type of communist approach to government," Mills said.

Mills said if cities continue to "roguely" use annexation, he will consider using the legislative option to de-annex properties.

Many local business owners came forward to explain how the additional city taxes would be a burden.

Myra Mead, the owner of the Hall County Book Exchange, pointed to the difficulties independent business owners face.

She said she fears the increased financial burden of city taxes could put her and others out of business.

"We’re all going away," Mead said. "I just hope (the City Council) understand it’s important to keep the flavor of the community."

Kenneth Neidenbach, owner of Village Pets, said he has been in business for 40 years, said he recently moved his business into the county to decrease his costs.

"If they increase that, the shops pay the tax increases," not the landlords, he said.

Commissioner Tom Oliver made a motion to authorize County Attorney Bill Blalock to take all administrative and judicial actions necessary to express the county’s objections to the annexation.

"To me, liberty doesn’t have a price," Oliver said.

The motion was approved 3-1. Commissioner Ashley Bell voted against it. Commissioner Steve Gailey was not present.

Bell urged all those in attendance to attend Gainesville’s public hearing on the annexation Sept. 3.

"We’re giving you some good coverage on TV-18, may give you a couple headlines, but at the end of the day our vote is not going to change it; it’s George (Wangemann) and his four friends on the City Council that’s going to change it," Bell said.

City Councilman George Wangemann was the only member of the City Council that attended the meeting.

Wangemann said after the meeting that he also is against the annexation.

"I don’t believe in anything that’s forced," Wangemann said. "Especially with property. This is un-American."

Wangemann said he would like to see the city and county work together to come to a solution.

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