State Rep. John Carson, R-southeast Cherokee, wants to reverse a recent conservation subdivision annexation that was approved by the Woodstock City Council.
The council on May 13 approved a request from Inline Communities for annexation, rezoning and variances for about 148 acres, including a planned conservation subdivision of 242 homes on 132.8 acres. The subdivision land abuts the Millstone Manor neighborhood and is next to Arnold Mill Elementary School.
In addition to the large subdivision property, there are two other tracts, 10.1 acres and 5.41 acres, which will connect to city limits.
Carson announced Friday that he plans to file legislation against the annexation during the 2020 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly next year. The state law would revert Woodstock’s boundaries to those prior to the Inline annexation, which goes into effect July 1.
“What I’d really like to start is a renewed emphasis on dialogue between city and county officials,” he said in an interview Friday. “There are a lot of upset people about this. I know I’m making a bunch of people upset, but I believe I’m doing my job to represent my constituents, and my constituents are very upset about this annexation.”
County officials raised objections to the annexation when they reviewed it in January, though the county cannot legally stop the city from annexing. Though Woodstock staff recommended approving the project with conditions, the city planning commission unanimously recommended denying it.
Among the 14 conditions that were approved with the application were: the applicant will donate at least 2.5 acres of the largest tract to the city for a fire station site, they will donate the nine-acre tract to the city for a Greenprints Trail connection, and they will make road improvements to the area, including straightening Hendon Road and installing center left turn lanes and accelerating/decelerating lanes at Arnold Mill Road.
Public comments have been almost entirely in opposition to the annexation, largely from county residents who live near the property. Neighbors voiced concerns about the subdivision’s density, which is estimated to be 1.8 units per acre. They argued that the new homes would put extra strain on traffic and overpopulate local schools.
In an initial land survey, two of the annexed properties along Little River were connected by only 47 feet, which would not meet the state’s requirements of 50 feet, however a more recent survey from January indicates that the properties are connected by 50.2 feet, a city employee said at the last meeting.
At the meeting where the annexation was approved, the vote was 4-1, with Councilman Warren Johnson opposing. Mayor Donnie Henriques and Councilman Colin Ake were absent.
A condition that would have allowed subdivision residents to shoot firearms on their property under Cherokee County’s ordinance was struck between the planning commission meeting and the final vote.
Cherokee County Commission Chairman Harry Johnston said he supports Carson taking legislative action on the issue.
“I support Rep. Carson’s proposal,” he said in an e-mail to the Tribune Monday. “Besides undoing this inappropriate annexation, it would also establish a deterrent against future annexations like it. The Legislature probably wouldn’t have to take such action again. Just the threat that they might would create an incentive for cities and developers to keep future annexations more consistent with the county’s overall development plans. It could go a long way toward keeping development of our county orderly and appropriate, and at a level that gives the infrastructure a reasonable chance to keep up.”
An attorney representing Inline Communities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.