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Snellville officials postpone Tree Lane annexation

SNELLVILLE - Snellville council members voted Monday to postpone a decision regarding the annexation and rezoning of a 14.85-acre tract on Tree Lane until the Jan. 28 public hearing.

The Orchards Development requested the postponement until results of a citizens review panel could be reviewed and addressed.

The request has been postponed for several months, as this matter is one of several affected by recent changes in state law governing annexations and disputes.

Mayor Pro Tem Warren Auld said that the annexation process for the Tree Lane property has been going on for more than a year.

"It seems prudent to give the applicant a chance to address the (panel's) findings," Auld remarked.

Local resident Joe Anderson asked city leaders to deny the applicant's request for postponement.

"The citizen review panel's recommendation does need a whole lot of review," Anderson stated, referring to the panel's advice to the city not to rezone the Tree Lane property to Snellville's R-HOP (Residential Housing for Older Persons) designation. "Continued postponement doesn't make sense," Anderson added.

Council members voted 4-1 to OK the postponement. Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer cast the only vote against allowing a delay in making a decision. Councilman Tod Warner recused himself from the discussion and vote, as he served on the Planning Commission before taking a council seat last month.

Summit Chase Country Club annexation denied

A request by Genesis Development for the annexation and rezoning of 42.86 acres located at Temple Johnson Road and Garmon Road was denied Monday night, following months of delay caused by the state's dispute resolution process concerning annexations.

Genesis Development had planned to build an active adult residential housing community on the property. Lee Tucker, an attorney representing Genesis, asked the mayor and council to postpone making a decision on the matter until the results of a citizens review panel scheduled to take place Wednesday could be heard.

Tucker also said his client wanted to review and address concerns raised by surrounding property owners before city leaders made their decision.

"If we don't come up with a resolution after Wednesday, then you can vote your conscience at that time," Tucker said, asking that his client be allowed to at least hear the panel's findings before a decision was made.

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz made a motion to deny the annexation request without prejudice. Auld seconded her motion, adding that the city's denial would prevent Gwinnett County from rezoning the same property to a higher density for one year, based on the new state guidelines.

The council and mayor voted unanimously to deny the annexation without prejudice.

Tucker voiced his disagreement with the city's decision, saying that it "may not be setting the best precedent" for other such cases by allowing the county to "drag its feet" and "wear people down" when objecting to an annexation.

Area residents cited density and improper use of the land, which is located near Summit Chase Country Club. The area has been designated one of the city's few rural character areas and is better zoned for low density use, some Garmon Road property owners said Monday night.

City to observe MLK holiday

Snellville interim city manager Jim Brooks reported Monday night that city observance of the Martin Luther King holiday in January 2008 would cost taxpayers about $10,000, including lost productivity.

Brooks had been tasked last month with determining an estimated cost to the city and with identifying amendments to the current budget that could be made to facilitate citywide observance of the holiday.

Brooks and City Clerk Sharon Lowery will work together in the coming weeks to make the necessary amendments to the 2007-2008 budget, making January 2008 the first time Snellville employees will take a paid holiday to observe the civil rights leader's birthday.

In future city budgets, the paid holiday will be listed as a budgeted item.

Parks to apply for grant

The Parks Department was given the go-ahead Monday night to apply for a $100,000 federal grant to help fund a nature trail planned for Oak Road Park, 5-acre passive park in the early planning stages.

Councilwoman Barbara Bender said the funds "will make a small dent in the trail," and thanked department director Cyndee Bonacci for her staff's efforts in identifying and pursuing the federal grant.

Snellville will match the federal funds, if the grant is received, with at least 20 percent matching city funds.