Inline annexation

A map shows the properties included in the recent annexation, which are to the east and north of existing city limits.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 8 in Cherokee County's lawsuit against the city of Woodstock over its Inline Communities annexation.

The hearing will determine if the court will hear the county's claims against the city, a developer and involved property owners.

In May, the city council approved an annexation of 146 acres along Arnold Mill Road, which includes a large tract planned for a 242-home conservation subdivision and two other tracts that connect to the rest of city limits. Any action based on the annexation, including developing the property, is on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The largest parcel consists of 132.38 acres owned by Alan Goldberg and Havgol, LLC, where Inline plans to build the 242 homes. 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. 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.

The suit, filed against the city, the Woodstock mayor and council, Inline, David Porter, Greater North Georgia Charities, Alan Goldberg and Havgol, LLC, alleges that the annexation violates state law.

Inline and the property owners, through their attorneys, have requested a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the facts of the case are not in dispute, only whether the city's actions violated state law. The defense attorneys maintain that the annexation is legal.

The county's attorney argues that the city failed to sufficiently describe the properties involved when giving the county its annexation notice. Defense attorneys in their filings say the city provided the county notice with a map, site plan and the annexation application.

The county claims all properties are required to have shared boundaries of 50 feet or more and the annexation doesn't meet that, citing a land survey that shows the boundary between the David Porter and Greater North Georgia Charities properties, as 47.15 feet contiguous to the existing city border. A later survey indicated that the boundary was exactly 50 feet. The property owners say the law only applies to land abutting existing municipal boundaries, and in this case the shared boundary between the Greater North Charities property and city limits is 378 feet.

Another county argument is that the annexation is invalid because one of the land parcels is not buildable due to the floodplain. The defense says state law doesn't require that every parcel be able to support an occupiable structure or building, but that it meet size requirements, if there are any, to construct a building, and the city has no such regulations for annexed property.

The county also argues that the city is illegally annexing a portion of a parcel of land. Property owners contend the Porter property issue came from confusion about the owner having two separate parcels with the same county tax identification code, and these properties are not next to each other.

County attorney Angela Davis said she will file a response to the summary judgment request by the court's Friday deadline.

Judge Ellen McElyea is scheduled to hear the summary judgment request 9 a.m. Oct. 8 at the Cherokee County Justice Center. If the case moves forward after the hearing and the court's decision, and after any appeals, the final hearing will be scheduled within 60 days.

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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