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Hall commissioners fight another annexation
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners has made it clear that it will not stand for involuntary annexations.

At its meeting Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to formally oppose Oakwood’s proposed annexation of property in the Holiday Heights subdivision.

The vote comes on the heels of commissioners’ opposition to Gainesville’s plan to annex businesses and properties that fall on county "islands" along the main corridors of the city.

Commissioner Billy Powell made the motion to formally object to Oakwood’s plan to annex homes in the Holiday Heights subdivision to rezone for business use.

The commission held an impromptu public hearing to hear from those in the audience. One Holiday Heights resident, Dian Herring, spoke.

"That’s coming into our subdivision and taking five lots and we don’t want it," Herring said. "We just don’t want businesses mixed in with our homes."

The commission said the neighborhood, which is zoned residential, currently would not allow for businesses.

"We would not approve it," Commissioner Bobby Banks said.

Commissioner Steve Gailey said Oakwood’s proposed annexation was very unusual.

"In my 17 years as an elected official, I have never seen an annexation request like this," Gailey said.

Also at the meeting, Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton presented the results of an appraisal of the former county jail to the commission. Sutton said the findings of the appraisal value the building on Main Street at $25 million. The facility was recently leased and renovated by the Corrections Corporation of America, which houses immigration detainees.

The building falls in the center of a conflict between the county and Gainesville. In 2007, the city and county drafted an agreement that called for Gainesville to pay $4 million for the jail over two fiscal years and allow Hall to lease the jail to a private jail management firm like CCA for seven years. The deal would have generated approximately $18 million for the county and guaranteed Gainesville officials eventual control of the property.

The agreement intended to solve the issue of what to do about the county-owned building that sits in the middle of Gainesville’s Midtown area, which is slated for redevelopment. The agreement was never signed however, and the governments remain in conflict over the property.

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