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City, county spar over annexation

LAWRENCEVILLE - The latest annexation scuffle between Gwinnett County and Dacula will go to court, and Commissioner Mike Beaudreau will go to the Legislature.

Four neighbors of an Alcovy Road development have filed a lawsuit against the city and developers, saying officials did not follow proper procedures to annex the land and then improperly rezoned the property.

Attorney Lee Thompson said the proposed neighborhood by the Alcovy River would be detrimental to the current residents' property values. Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

Beaudreau and Wilbanks publicly fought over the annexation, when the commissioner said the city's decision cost Gwinnett more than $150,000. The property contained land in the path of planned Sugarloaf Parkway extension, and the price tag went up when the city approved the annexation and rezoning.

Beaudreau hopes to talk about the money issues as well as other service delivery problems in testimony today before a House subcommittee. The panel is considering a proposal to give counties more of a say in the annexation process.

"For some folks in the state, they don't see it as much of an issue. We're different in Gwinnett because the county delivers the bulk of services," Beaudreau said. "We face it every day and the repercussions of those decisions. When we shed more light on this, I think the Legislature will do the right thing."

Beaudreau said he's tried diplomacy, and state law was changed two years ago to give counties a forum to air grievances. But he said the issues are simply getting worse, since the county government has no method of stopping a city.

"A higher power has to step in and look out for the greater good of everyone involved," he said. "Right now, they hold all the cards."

Thompson, who is the city attorney for Duluth, Sugar Hill and Grayson, said he doesn't believe the Dacula lawsuit has any bearing on the proposed legislation.

"I don't think that legislation is appropriate or needed," he said.