DEAR EDITOR,

State Sen. Brandon Beach is purporting to be a champion of the people in filing SB502 to de-annex land off Arnold Mill Road annexed at the property owner's request by the City of Woodstock. In fact, his bill to de-annex the property was never designed to pass. But at least he gets to send mailers out!

After Woodstock City Council annexed the property, I spent hours on the phone with elected state officials. Senator Beach was not involved and did not engage. Though I opposed the annexation, I believe Woodstock followed state law, and that land use decisions should be made locally. I believe in the conservative principle of local control.

The City offered to sit down with state elected officials to share details. Brandon Beach did not attend, nor respond to the City's invitation. Representatives Cantrell, Caldwell, and Turner attended and expressed displeasure with the annexation. They voiced that though they didn't agree with the decision to annex the property, they didn't immediately see an egregious violation of process that would necessitate state intervention in local governance, and would let Cherokee County's litigation determine facts surrounding legality.

Cherokee County did file a lawsuit against the City and is appealing initial judgement in favor of the City. In part because of the active lawsuit, the Cherokee County state delegation declined to move forward an initiative by Representative Carson of Marietta to de-annex. At multiple delegation meetings, Senator Beach reportedly took no interest in the issue and did not support multiple initiatives discussed to address issues raised.

Then, days before the suspension of session, without following delegation or senate rules, Senator Beach filed SB502. I reached out directly multiple times. Beach did not answer his phone, his voicemail was full, and he did not return a text. It turns out that SB502 is Dead On Arrival. Senate rules will not allow his bill to advance. I suspect Senator Beach knew his bill wouldn't move, but at least you've gotten his mailers!

I believe Senator Beach's proposed bill would set a dangerous precedent. Who you know under the gold dome should not determine land use in Cherokee County. There is room for better coordination between City and County officials, but land use decisions in Cherokee County should not be decided by elected officials who live in Fulton and Cobb Counties.

Whether or not you share my opposition to this annexation, I hope you'll agree with me that these decisions ought to remain local. Brandon Beach is suggesting a big government "solution" to a local government issue before local legal challenges are heard. He isn't stopping government overreach; Brandon Beach is government overreach.

Colin Ake

Woodstock City Council, Ward 3

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