Cherokee County is appealing the decision in its recent lawsuit against the city of Woodstock over an annexation.

Monday, the county filed a notice in Cherokee County Superior Court of its intent to appeal a ruling that upheld Woodstock’s annexation of three parcels totaling 148 acres on Arnold Mill Road, court records show. The appeal will be sent to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The largest parcel consists of 132.38 acres owned by Alan Goldberg and Havgol, LLC, where Inline plans to build 242 houses in a conservation subdivision. The parcel owned by the charity, 10.11 acres, includes a part that is to be donated to the city for a trail connection. The last parcel is the Porter property, 5.48 acres. The smaller two parcels connect the large one to city limits. Inline agreed to donate least 2.5 acres of the Goldberg property to the city for a fire station site. Portions of the properties are in the floodplain and along Little River.

In the suit, the county alleged that the city’s annexation violated state laws. Among other arguments, county officials said Woodstock’s annexation failed to meet state contiguity requirements of “at least one-eighth of the aggregate external boundary or 50 feet of the area to be annexed, whichever is less,” citing a land survey that showed the smaller properties sharing only 47.15 feet. A later survey indicated that the boundary was exactly 50 feet.

Judge Tony Baker ruled that the annexation was legal, even if boundaries were not 50 feet between all parcels, because state law treats all annexed properties as one unit. The 378 foot shared boundary between the city limits and the adjacent annexed property owned by Greater North Georgia Charities, he said, met this requirement.

“The city believes its position is strong and supports Judge Baker’s decision. One can never predict with any certainty what the appeals court will decide but we believe the appeals court will uphold Judge Baker’s decision as it is well reasoned and follows the law,” Woodstock city attorney Eldon Basham said in an email.

Cherokee County Commission Chairman Harry Johnston said the county wants the court not to set a precedent for chain annexations with short shared boundaries.

“We appealed because we believe the intent (of) the annexation law is to require at least 50 feet of contiguity at all borders along an annexation chain. Language that was interpreted to the contrary at the Superior Court level was intended to only apply to the procedure and order of an annexation process, not to waive that important requirement. We believe the Appeals Court will understand that distinction,” Johnston said in an email. “If we don’t appeal, all future chain annexations will be exempt from the 50-foot requirement at points along a chain.”

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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