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Barrow Airport question may be placed on July ballot

WINDER - Barrow County residents will get to vote their opinion regarding airport upgrades.

After a long night in which Barrow County's Board of Commissioners and Airport Authority faced a room packed full of passionate residents, the board announced its intention to let residents have their opinion counted.

The board is circulating a written question, "Would you support the eventual extension of runway 3113 from 5,500 feet to 6,500 feet at the Northeast Georgia Regional Airport for safety and enhanced economic opportunities as long as the airport or airport facilities are not utilized for cargo distribution and/or commercial passenger service?"

Barrow County residents should respond "yes" or "no" and return their response to the board as soon as possible. The board will vote March 11 whether to include the question on the ballot in July.

Regardless of the outcome in July, residents' votes will not be binding.

"It is an opinion poll," said Doug Garrison, chairman of the board.

No action taken on

Auburn deannexations

Violette Lyle and Edgar Evans are still residents of Auburn.

Lyle and Evans applied in January to have their Lyle Road properties deannexed from the city. Their properties were two of 17 forcibly annexed into Auburn in November 2006 as city officials sought to eliminate land islands inside its borders.

Barrow County's Board of Commissioners was set to sign a proclamation stating either its support or disapproval of the deannexations, but no action was taken on the matter because Lyle and Evans had not paid the $1,000 fee that must accompany the request.

Evans said he was never asked to pay the fee.

"Their lawyer told our lawyer that it was not an official request because they hadn't paid the $1,000," Garrison said. "Our lawyer said we had to take it off the agenda."

Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger admits the city did not take Lyle and Evans' money.

"It was not an official deannexation request because the money was not transferred," she said. "However, I still asked our lawyer to investigate to see if it would be legal to deannex them and the result of that request was that it was not."

In letters to Lyle and Evans, attorney Jack Wilson states that to deannex the two properties would create, or recreate, islands of unincorporated Barrow County surrounded by Auburn's city limits, which is prohibited by state law.

"If you, your attorney, or any other party is aware of any exception to this legal provision, please provide it to us," Wilson wrote. "I am sure the city would be happy to consider any such exception."

According to Blechinger, Auburn city officials did not want to take Lyle and Evans' money until Wilson knew for sure if the deannexation could take place.

"One of their issues was the zoning on their land," Blechinger said. "The homeowners have been assured the zoning will not be changed on their land. If they still want to go through with it, they can come in and pay the fee. The result will be the same. The law will not let us deannex them."

The matter might one day make it back to the Board of Commissioners.

"The attorneys will work it out," said District 5 Commissioner Billy Parks, a former Auburn city councilman.

In other business, Jeff Dickerson was appointed to the District 1 seat of Keep Barrow Beautiful.