WOODSTOCK — The Woodstock City Council has approved the annexation of property including the proposed Inline Communities conservation subdivision, and on second reading its budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

Council members reviewed the Inline Communities annexation rezoning and charter amendment for a second reading, and approved it with a 4-2 vote. Council members Colin Ake and Warren Johnson opposed the measure. Mayor Donnie Henriques was absent from the meeting.

The vote annexes 148 acres on 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. Cherokee County commissioners recently voted to sue the city over the decision, and state Rep. John Carson has said he plans to file legislation to reverse the annexation in the next General Assembly session.

The city’s budget for 2020 is $44.3 million, down from the current fiscal year’s amended budget at $46 million. It includes a partial rollback of the property tax millage rate to 6.57 mills. The budget was approved unanimously by council members at their meeting Thursday.

Under the new budget, Woodstock will have three new full-time positions: an assistant city manager, a GIS analyst and a project coordinator. There will also be an added part-time bailiff and a part-time wastewater treatment plant operator.

The newly approved budget projects Woodstock’s debt balance at $28.1 million, a 36 percent decrease from the fiscal year 2012 balance.

City employees received a preliminary tax digest from Cherokee County in May that was slightly lower than anticipated, but they expect to see changes between now and when taxes are collected, said Budget Analyst Crystal Welch. Recurring revenues are projected to rise 1 percent.

Also at the meeting, councilmembers approved changes to a neighborhood at Neese Road and Henry Drive, which was previously approved for 54 units on 18.78 acres. The new plan has 46 units, and creates more green space to the north of the property. A redesign was required because the applicant discovered environmentally sensitive areas after receiving the city’s approval, staff reported. The applicant also requested new variances to reduce front and rear setbacks from 25 feet to 15 feet. The new plan also increases minimum lot sizes from 5,500 to 6,000 square feet, and includes two future connections to properties to the west and to Neese Road.

Council members, staff and the applicant debated how to protect the northern green space. Staff recommended requiring a fence to mark the property line at lots abutting the green space, and the applicant preferred signs posted between houses. The council voted for all recommendations, including the fence, 4-2, with Ake and Councilman Potts opposed.

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.

(1) comment

Jill G

Woodstock City Council's vote 4-2 for InLine Communities annexation of property well outside the City limits is a money-land grab. The developer has worked with the City before completing projects in downtown. Now the developer to make higher density in the rural section of SW Cherokee County - is giving the City lands for a greenway (which they could have bought cheaply enough) and acreage for a firehouse. This property is 4-5 miles from any other city property fronting Arnold Mill Road and impacts 2/10ths of a mile of Arnold Mill Road right next to Arnold Mill Elementary School where the roads are not on an improvement list until 2040. It is a reckless and senseless land grab for tax dollars by these four council persons. I recommend voting these four council persons out at their next election and if you cannot vote for City Councilmen - remember you can campaign against them. I will.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.