CANTON — Three churches faced with displacement because of the planned widening of Ga. Highway 20 between Canton and Cumming will receive a financial break from Cherokee County.

Any county government fees the churches might incur from having to relocate will be waived, thanks to a vote from the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners last week.

The churches facing relocation from the road widening are Macedonia Baptist Church in Canton; Philadelphia Baptist Church in Ball Ground; and Buffington Baptist Church in the Buffington community.

As of now, county staff told commissioners, the only church to have begun the moving process is the largest of the three, Macedonia. Its land disturbance permit fee of $5,362 and building permit fee of $7,616.76 — for a total of $12,978.76 — were waived with the commissioners’ 4-0 vote.

The state has been engaged in buying right-of-way for the project to widen the highway between Canton and Cumming since 2017 and work on the first phase from Interstate 575 to Scott Road in Cherokee County is expected to begin this year and take three years to complete.

Right-of-way acquisition for the second, third and fourth phases, which when completed will stretch to Ga. Highway 369, began last year. Acquisition for the final two phases are slated to take place in 2021 and 2022, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The contract for the first phase will be awarded this summer. The project begins .34 miles east of I-575 in Canton and ends .15 miles east of Scott Road. The proposed road will consist of three 12-foot lanes in each direction, with a 20-foot raised median with breaks at major intersections, and sidewalks on each side, according to the DOT.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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(2) comments

Honey

It is big lost for any business owners cause of this expansion. It is going on from last couple of years. Business owner can not do or improve anything since we got the news. Now they are taking 3 to 5 years more to finish and right of way acquisition. Since they got property checked for couple of times so pay them. They will improve their businesses somewhere else. It is not right to put them in the middle. First they should buy properties from owners and take or build for decades. So many people are loosing money and do not take more from them.

rswenson

Being displaced by a condemning agency is never an easy transition for a business. The business will lose money and will not be made whole in the process. But, the real loser from this article is the County for waiving fees associated with the reestablishment of the church; a sizable amount, no doubt. According to federal law, a displaced person, in this case the church, is entitled to reimbursement for any licenses, permits, fees or certifications required at the replacement site as result of the agencies actions. In other words, the church could pay the fees and be reimbursed by GDOT as an eligible relocation cost. Since GDOT receives most of its funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the feds pick up the majority of the cost. I know the county commissioners thought they were doing the right thing for the church, but their actions were misguided and unduly punitive to county tax payers.

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