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Flowery Branch throws support behind Clermont
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Flowery Branch City Council agreed informally Thursday night that it believes Hall County should build a library in the North Hall town of Clermont.

Mayor Diane Hirling broached the touchy subject, saying that Clermont Mayor James Nix had asked her to contact other mayors in the county to see if they would be interested in sending letters supporting Clermont.

“I said I wouldn’t give them a letter unless the whole council was in support of this,” said Hirling, who heads up a Hall County mayors luncheon that meets regularly.

Council members quickly gave their support.

“I can tell you that during the negotiation for (the special purpose local option sales tax), in the presentations that were made ... it was very clear to me that the county had intended to place that library in Clermont,” said Councilman Craig Lutz.

“I can’t help but think of the promises that the county has made to us since then and ... anyway, I fully support the city of Clermont and that the county should follow through on the promises,” Lutz added.

Councilwoman Tara Richards abstained from the matter because “the company I work for is working on the plans for the park that’s at the alternative location.”

“I’ll try to word (the letter) in that it is the city and no individuals that supports their claim,” Hirling said.

Clermont City Council voted March 9 to sue Hall County over the commissioners’ decision to build a North Hall library on Nopone Road.

Clermont originally was considered as a site for the future library, and town residents say the commissioners abused their discretion with sales tax dollars by changing the location.

County officials have said the Clermont site was only a consideration and that no vote had ever been taken to confirm a location for the library.

Also on Thursday night, the Flowery Branch council voted to delay until April 1 deciding whether to accept a gift of three street lights from Friends of the Depot.

Council members said they needed to ask the group some questions about the offer before proceeding with a vote.

The group is asking the city to spend $9,000 for the lights, which would be on property around the Historic Depot on Railroad Avenue at Main Street, and then it would reimburse the city.

City Manager Bill Andrew said the city would have to spend $1,800 or possibly more to install the lights and could pull from $2,651 set aside for depot repairs and maintenance.

“However, there is a significant amount of repair needed for a ceiling at the depot,” as well as some other work, Andrew said.

A plan drawn up by the group for an arrangement of the lights also shows “some of the lights might be in an area that might not necessarily need illumination,” he said.

In an e-mail to Dinah Wayne, a Friends of the Depot member and former Flowery Branch Better Hometown manager, Andrew suggested accepting two of the lights and using money that would have been spent on the third light toward installation costs.

“I did not receive a reply to that e-mail,” Andrew said.

Times staff writer Melissa Weinman contributed to this report.