Round one in the feud over a historic building in downtown Dahlonega now looks like a skirmish before the real battle dawns.
City Council could hear an appeal as early as November on whether to allow a hotel development to proceed.
Roberta Green Garrett, in a handwritten letter earlier this month, contested the Historic Preservation Committee’s denial of her request to demolish the Jeremiah Payne House, also known as the Parks Clothing building, to make way for the new development.
In that appeal, Garrett noted that City Council meets Monday.
“There will be a lot more fireworks at this meeting,” Penny Sharp, an opponent of the development, said.
Sharp, along with other residents and volunteers, have opposed the demolition, saying the proposal runs counter to the character of the downtown area.
Though no mention of a hearing is yet on the council’s agenda, protesters said they are trying to grow support via online petitions, social media, old-fashioned letters and turnout at public meetings in the meantime.
“We are continuing on our drive to preserve the building,” Diane Bates, another opponent, said. “We are preparing just in case.”
The historic building in the line of fire survived the Civil War and a hotel fire nearby in 1904. It is recognized as the second-oldest building standing in the historic district.
Garrett had proposed tearing down the 160-year-old building and replacing it with an upscale, boutique hotel along East Main Street.
The city, known for its gold rush lore and small-town charm, draws an estimated quarter of a million tourists annually.
At a Lumpkin County Development Authority meeting in September, state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, is noted as favoring Garrett’s project, according to the minutes of the meeting.
The project also appears to have the backing of Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough who, at the same meeting, stated that “plans meet all necessary criteria.”
“So you can see the battle we are facing in Dahlonega,” Bates said.