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Clermont deannexation request withdrawn
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Chris Nonnemaker withdraws his application for the deannexation of a strip center at 6483 Cleveland Highway at the Clermont City Council meeting on Tuesday. Nonnemaker will reapply this week. - photo by Erin O. Smith

A businessman pulled his request to deannex from Clermont after noting that a town councilwoman who sided with him at a previous meeting was absent for the final vote Tuesday night.

Property owner Chris Nonnemaker said that Kristi Crumpton was one of three council members who voted in March to allow him to withdraw from the city his 6-acre tract featuring a Papa’s Pizza To-Go restaurant off U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway, an act that would leave the property in unincorporated Hall County.

Crumpton was out of town on a family matter, Mayor James Nix said at the beginning of the meeting.

“With that, I’d like to request that we do a public hearing but forego the vote to such time that we have a full council,” Nonnemaker said.

About 15 people had gathered at the council’s monthly meeting for a public hearing and the vote on his request.

“If we have a public hearing, we’re going to vote tonight,” Nix said. “We have two consecutive meetings that we’ve advertised this for, and that includes the forum.”

As Nonnemaker started to speak, Nix said, “We’ve got a quorum here to hold a meeting.”

“So ... we can’t forego the vote?” Nonnemaker asked.

“That’s right,” Nix said.

Nonnemaker then said he wanted to suspend his application and reapply for deannexation later.

“I think that’s your privilege,” Nix said. “I can’t guarantee there’ll be five of us here to vote (on a new request).”

“There’s not five here tonight and that’s guaranteed,” Nonnemaker said.

In March, the council voted 3-2 to deannex, with Crumpton, Councilwoman Lynn Adams and Councilman John Brady voting to approve. Councilmen Eric Thomas and Seth Weaver voted to deny the petition.

Even though he didn’t have a vote, Nix let his feelings be known.

“The part I worry about is precedent,” he said, adding that other properties could follow suit.

Nonnemaker said at the previous meeting he had a potential offer on the property “contingent upon it being in the county, so (the new owners) could have more flexibility to do what they want.”

“I’m trying to move forward, sell property and maybe retire and enjoy my brand-new twin grandsons,” he said.

Nonnemaker’s request raised issues of alcohol sales and property rights.

Clermont is a dry town, something the Town Council reaffirmed last summer with a vote to let stand an ordinance banning beer and wine sales in the town.

Nonnemaker didn’t speak in March to the potential sale of alcohol on the property, but he did say the pizzeria has been in business for 11 years and his franchise agreement doesn’t allow him to sell alcohol.

“We’re a family place,” Nonnemaker said. “We want to keep it that way. ... We’re part of the community, we enjoy the community, but sometimes the rules get in the way.

“In my mind, this is a property rights issue.”

The issue still created a buzz among residents in the audience after Nonnemaker withdrew his request.

“This could be street talk, but has there been any other interest in deannexation?” Warren Weaver asked.

Nix said he hasn’t heard anything personally, just rumblings.

“There needs to be thought about this deannexation and I think you have made the comment that this kind of leaves the town with a black eye,” Warren Weaver said. “It’s not a common thing to deannex, if you check with most municipalities.”

And Sandra Cantrell told council members she believed they need to consider a “vision for this community.”

“If businesses want to withdraw from the town, that’s not logical,” she said. “If anything, a business should want to annex into the city. A business wanting to deannex is taking away from the town.”