Dacula raises annexation, rezoning and development fees

DACULA - City annexation fees more than quadrupled when councilmen voted unanimously to raise fees from $525 to $2,250 at Thursday's council meeting.

Rezoning fees tripled and building permit fees increased, too. Those fees hadn't been raised since the early 1990s, Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said. At $525 each, Dacula was losing money on annexations, and the loss was being paid for by Dacula taxpayers, said Jim Osborn, city administrator.

"The city has to subsidize the loss and it comes out of the general fund," Osborn said.

The increase will allow Dacula to break even on administrative and legal costs.

"These kinds of fees are not money-makers," Wilbanks said. "Particularly if the county objects to an annexation, and they object to them all, then it raises costs. Annexations are more than just a hearing in front of planning and zoning and city council."

Recent property annexations have taken up to six months to complete. The lengthy process requires verification of plats; the sending of certified letters to Gwinnett's planning and zoning commission and county commissioners; and two advertisements, with legal descriptions prepared by the city attorney, must be placed in the newspaper. If county officials object to the annexation, a mediation conference might be held.

Finally, the proposal is heard by Dacula's planning and zoning board and city councilmen. Once approved, a certified copy of the annexation ordinance is sent to Gwinnett County commissioners and to the U. S. Justice Department for pre-clearance. All this takes hours of preparation and management by City Attorney Dennis Still, Osborn, and city staff.

Annexation fees will be waived if the project is a city-initiated annexation.

Movable Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall coming

to Dacula

Dacula may host a replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall from April 27 to May 1. City councilmen voted unanimously to spend up to $6,000 to display the memorial. The cost to transport the wall to Dacula is $4,000 and council approved an additional $2,000 for lighting, portable toilets, security and other expenses.

The wall travels around the U.S. and, at 226 feet long by 60 feet wide, is one-half the size of the permanent memorial in Washington, D.C. Marvin Atherton, who helped bring the same wall to Dacula in 1999, told council he will explore the possibility of erecting it on Hebron Baptist Church property at the corner of Fence and Dacula Roads.

Any money left over will be spent on the Memorial Day parade, May 29. Atherton, who has never served in the military, has coordinated the parade since 1994 on a $700 budget. Councilmen Gene Greeson and Wendell Halcomb both served active duty in the Army National Guard and the Army,