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Islands still held in limbo
Gainesville officials unsure of when annexation hearing will be
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Other business

In other business, the Gainesville City Council:

  • Gave initial approval to a road abandonment request from Gainesville City Center, the developers of a planned hotel and office complex in Midtown Gainesville. The request was to abandon portions of Green and Bradford streets to build a driveway and will require a second vote of approval from the City Council to become final. After the council voted on the request Tuesday, Councilman Robert “Bob” Hamrick commented on the recent lawsuit Gainsville City Center was involved in with Regions Financial Corp. over easement rights to the bank’s property adjacent to the development. The lawsuit, initiated by Regions, ended out of court with Gainesville City Center purchasing the bank property, but two county commissioners, Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Billy Powell, who had a contract on the Regions property were paid to back out of the deal.Hamrick said if the city could, it should look into how much those commissioners were paid, calling the commissioners’ involvement in the lawsuit “a violation of public trust” and unethical conduct by a public official.“Their actions, in my opinion, almost saw this project discontinue,” Hamrick said. “For that to have happened certainly would have been a blow to our hopeful development of (City) View or that whole Midtown area.”
  • Gave initial approval to a request from Kubota USA, Inc. to abandon a portion of Ramsey Road at its intersection with Sargent Road to the railroad tracks.

Whether “islanders” on Gainesville’s gateway corridors will become incorporated into the city’s limits is still a mystery.

City Council members were originally slated to hear public comments Tuesday on a proposal to annex 59 properties in unincorporated islands on key entrances to the city.

But the hearing was cancelled due to an advertising error, and council members did not discuss it much when they gathered Tuesday to vote on other business.

Mayor Myrtle Figueras made a brief statement on the postponement of the public hearings, but council members did not say when the hearings would be rescheduled and none made a motion to reschedule them.

“It is regrettable that an advertising error necessitated the cancellation of tonight’s annexation hearings,” Figueras said. “The council will be considering this item again, though the date and time line have not been re-established.”

After the meeting, Councilman George Wangemann said council members have considered bringing the proposal back on the table in January. But he and other council members said nothing has been decided yet.

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Bruner said council members will look at the calendar and decide the best time to reschedule the hearings.

“We did discuss it and it sounds like, you know, we may do it in the future,” Wangemann said. “Exactly the time frame, I couldn’t tell you.”

Councilman Danny Dunagan said the cancellation of Tuesday’s public hearing does not mean the annexation proposal is dead.

“We’ll probably talk some about it in work sessions in the future,” Dunagan said.

Dunagan would not say, however, if those discussions would take place anytime soon. The council’s next work session is scheduled for Sept. 10.

“If we’re going to do it, I want to go ahead and get it over with,” Dunagan said. “But if we’re not going to do it, I want to put it aside and quit talking about this stuff.”

The proposed annexation has drawn public opposition from Hall County officials. The Hall County Board of Commissioners held its own public hearing on the proposal in mid-August and vowed to do what it could “administratively and judicially” to fight any plan of the city’s to annex the properties.

If it moves forward, the annexation will include in the city limits “island” properties on gateway corridors: Thompson Bridge Road, Browns Bridge Road, Dawsonville Highway, Cleveland Highway and Atlanta Highway.