The Gainesville City Council will have the first reading today of an ordinance to annex 102.8 acres along Interstate 985 into the city limits. Hall County has given up any right to challenge the annexation under state law.
"They had a 15-day window to notify the Department of Community Affairs that they wanted this to go through arbitration," said Rusty Ligon, city planning director. "We contacted DCA and they did not receive notice."
The annexation became a point of contention between the city and county when Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks publicly claimed that the city of Gainesville was annexing the land in order to create a speed trap, a charge the city denied.
Banks concedes he has given up on any chances of stopping the annexation.
"It doesn’t do any good; they (the city) are going to do what they want to anyway," Banks said. "I made my point, and everybody knows what they’re going to be doing down there."
Banks said he would not be present for the 5:30 p.m. council meeting. While he has vehemently opposed the annexation, he says he isn’t mad.
"I’ve never been mad. I just don’t like it, and there is nothing I can do about it."
The action would bring the property of the Chicopee Woods Area Parks Commission into the city limits — and the 0.8 mile-stretch of I-985 right of way next to it.
Banks called a public hearing to have Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper explain the city’s need to annex the property. County Planning Director Randy Knighton sent the city an official objection to both the I-985 annexation and another proposed annexation of McEver Road right of way.
The objection letter claimed that the city’s only reason for annexing the two roads’ rights of way was to give the city additional patrol jurisdiction.
The county never took the matter further to DCA to send the annexation request into arbitration.
The council will have the first reading today and will take a final vote on May 19. If approved at that time, the area in question will immediately become a part of the Gainesville city limits.