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Hall County: Public hearings set for annexing islands
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to hold a public hearing on Gainesville’s proposed annexation of county islands along major corridors.

Commissioner Ashley Bell voted against the hearing, which will be held at 5 p.m. Aug. 13 in the Georgia Mountains Center.

The commission has been outspoken on several occasions in opposing Gainesville’s plan to annex more than 60 pieces of commercial property located in county islands along major city corridors such as Thompson Bridge Road, Browns Bridge Road and Dawsonville Highway.

Gainesville officials claim they need to have more control over zoning near city limits. Some commissioners claim the annexations would force businesses to pay higher taxes once part of the city.

"I would like to have maps showing where the commercial properties are and I’d also like to have maps showing where the registered voters are," Chairman Tom Oliver said.

Oliver said he would also like to send a letter to each of the property owners who would be affected by the annexation inviting them to the hearing.

Commissioner Billy Powell and Oliver said they favor challenging the state law that allows cities to annex county property.

"I do think this is a bad state law that I’d like to make sure we address with our legislative delegation when we meet with them," Powell said.

As part of the annexation process, Gainesville will be holding two public hearings in September.

The commission also voted to request review and mediation with the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission. The regional commission requested nearly $5,000 more from the county than last year, citing a population increase.

Commissioners said they would like to see more detailed information about the population before paying more money. Some questioned the validity of an increase.

"I think probably we’ve had a shrink in population," Commissioner Steve Gailey said.

The commission voted to ask the Department of Community Affairs to mediate the issue between the county and the regional commission.