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Hall County seeks input on commissioner districts
Some residents think maps dilute black vote
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Hall County leaders are seeking input on possible future districts for the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Ashley Bell has arranged for an informal hearing Wednesday at the Hall County Courthouse Annex that will allow residents to look at maps proposed for local commission districts, districts for the General Assembly and congressional districts and ask questions.

"I don't want to blow past the importance of what we do every decade," Bell said at Thursday's meeting of the Hall County Board of Commissioners. "I want to make sure as many folks ... who want to be involved in that process and who want to comment on that process get a chance to do so and get as many opportunities to do so."

Residents in Bell's district are circulating a petition against the state House districts drawn for Hall County, saying the maps dilute the black vote and split a historically black voting district.

The state House maps were signed by Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday and are now subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Justice. Local officials are also hoping those districts will change.

According to Hall County Public Information Officer Nikki Young, commission districts will change according to new population data.

In a statement released Thursday, Young said the changes would mean votersin the Chicopee election precinct who live east of Memorial Park Drive would belong to commission District 4 instead of District 2.

The Morgan II election precinct would become part of District 2 under the changes.

Voters from the Chicopee Agricultural Center election precinct who live north of Poplar Springs Road and west of Candler Road would become members of commission District 4.

And those voters from both the Chicopee Agricultural Center and Candler election precincts who lived east of Candler Road would vote in commission District 3 elections.

Like state maps, commission maps would have to be approved by the legislature and subject to preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The hearing is set for 12:30 to 1:30 Wednesday.

In other business, commissioners approved the closure of the Allen Creek trash compactor site Thursday. The site, which is the least used in the county, will close Sept. 19 to help county officials cut $116,000 in spending.

In their motion, commissioners also gave county employees the power to negotiate with local municipalities on the cost of dumping trash at the county landfill in an effort to bring business back to the landfill and raise revenues.

The hope is that by bringing big municipal customers like Gainesville and Oakwood back to the county, the solid waste division could raise as much as $190,000.

The commission also approved an intergovernmental agreement with Lula officials for the takeover of the county-owned portion of Rafe Banks park.

Lula city officials, who already own a part of the park, will now lease the county-owned portion at a cost of $10 a year for 25 years.

The park, on Athens Street in Lula, has baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic areas, a nature trail and playground. It was closed in July as part of an effort to make up for an $11.5 million deficit without raising taxes.

The deal with Lula is much like a deal county officials made with Clermont for park property there earlier this summer.

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