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Gainesville annexation plan sparks opposition from Hall County
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Gainesville City Council members plan to move ahead with the annexation of 60 unincorporated islands situated on major entrances into the city.

The move will affect 60 properties on Jesse Jewell Parkway, Dawsonville Highway, Thompson Bridge Road and Limestone Parkway.

The 90-day process likely will not go by without county officials objecting.

On the same day Gainesville officials announced their intent in a City Council work session Thursday, members of the Hall County commission expressed their intent to try and protect the property owners and the revenue the county stands to lose from the city’s possible annexation.

"Let’s monitor this and please stay on top of it, and if the county needs to support their residents, let’s do what we can for our citizens," Commissioner Billy Powell said at the commission’s meeting Thursday evening.

Powell said the move was a revenue producer for the city.

Annexing the properties on Gainesville’s corridors would bring in an additional $65,540 in tax revenue for the city and $192,431 in tax revenue for the school system, Gainesville’s Planning Director Rusty Ligon told City Council members.

But commissioners said the move would cost the county in revenues for its fire tax, which is a property tax charged only to residents outside of Gainesville’s city limits for the county’s fire protection, and in business license revenues.

The properties up for annexation are "overwhelmingly" commercial properties, according to Ligon.

Of the 60 properties under consideration for annexation, only 11 are residential.

Commissioners plan to discuss the annexation in-depth at their next work session, but city officials soon will send letters to the affected property owners.

Before getting a final stamp of approval, the annexations must go through two public hearings: one at a Planning and Appeals Board meeting and another at a City Council meeting. Dates for those meetings have not yet been set.

City Council members have said annexing these properties would clean up some, but not all, of the inconsistent uses at the entrances to the city.

Talk of the possible annexation was precipitated by a rezoning request to allow a car dealership on Thompson Bridge Road. Since the property was in the county, city officials had no input on the fate of the request, even though the property was surrounded by the city limits.

During Thursday’s discussion of the annexations, Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Bruner said, "Go for it as quickly as possible."

Mayor Myrtle Figueras said she still had reservations. "I still have question marks in my head, but I’ve heard four people say go for it, I think."