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Commissioners vote for Nopone Road library
Clermont residents had hoped for new town facility
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Clermont Mayor James Nix, left, attends the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday afternoon at the Georgia Mountains Center. Commissioners voted 4-1 to build a new library off Nopone Road, not in Clermont.

Despite objections from Clermont residents, the Hall County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to build the North Hall library at Nopone Road.

Commissioner Steve Gailey was opposed to building the library on the same property as the North Hall park and community center.

Many Clermont officials and residents opposed the idea of building a library and a park together, and others wanted the commission to follow through with building the library on a 44-acre tract in Clermont that the county owns.

There was little discussion from the commissioners before the vote.

Gailey, who represents North Hall, told the commission it was best for both facilities to move on with construction of the park at Nopone Road and then to build a library in Clermont.

Commissioner Billy Powell said he supported combining the facilities to save taxpayer money.

Following the meeting, Sandra Cantrell, a Clermont resident who has led the crusade to keep the library in Clermont, said she was hoping for at least a compromise from the commissioners.

“I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed with our elected officials,” Cantrell said. “I don’t think anyone wins, and that’s the shame of it.
“Their minds were made up before they came in, and it’s very obvious,” she said.

Cantrell said she and the people of Clermont will continue to fight. They plan to file suit against the county on the grounds that the county misrepresented their intentions to build the library in Clermont before the special purpose local option sales tax vote.

“This isn’t over,” Cantrell said.

Commission Chairman Tom Oliver said he thinks the panel made the right decision.

“It’s a challenge in some ways,” Oliver said. “Putting these projects together on Nopone, I think, is a vision for the future. We’ll be proven right. We’ll be challenged for the next year or year and a half, but at the same time if we want to look at 5, 10, 15 years down the road, I think we’ll find this is the correct choice.”

The issue moved quickly through the voting process.

At the Feb. 8 work session, Oliver proposed building the library on the same property as the proposed park and community center.

Oliver said combining the facilities would not only save money and serve more people, but would create a one-of-a-kind facility.

Clermont residents, on the other hand, felt jilted, saying they had been told for years that the sales tax-funded North Hall library would be rebuilt in Clermont to replace the aging facility that now serves the city.

The Hall County Library Board held a special called meeting Feb. 10 to discuss the issue where angry Clermont residents spoke out against moving the library. The board voted to recommend the move because it would be more centrally located in the area.

On Feb. 11, commissioners voted to postpone its decision until more information was available.

The Clermont City Council met Feb. 16 to hear from residents and decide on a course of action. After hearing how strongly people felt about the issue, the council decided to do whatever it takes to keep the library in Clermont.

Many pointed to the void of county facilities north of Ga. 52 as a major reason why building the library in Clermont is so important.
Over the last month, residents have mobilized to attend meetings, send e-mails and circulate petitions, culminating with a community meeting Saturday.

At that meeting, city attorney David Syfan said Clermont likely would file a lawsuit if the county voted to change the location of the future library.

On Monday, the commissioners discussed the logistics of building the library on the Nopone Road site during a special workshop.

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