ACWORTH - In a complete reversal, the Acworth mayor and Board of Aldermen decided to rescind an ordinance annexing 105 parcels of unincorporated Cobb County. At a special meeting called recently, the board also unanimously approved waiving another proposed annexation of 66 properties that was to be considered during the planning and zoning commission meeting later that night.
"The mayor and the board have heard and taken into account many (citizen) comments and information concerning island annexations during this past month," Mayor Tommy Allegood said.
Despite the decision, Allegood said the city reserves the right to consider island annexations in the future, meaning the city will continue to look at the possibility of taking in areas that are not in Acworth but are almost or fully surrounded by properties already within the city.
These parcels are referred to as "islands." The areas affected by the repeal of the annexation were along Hickory Grove Road and New McEver Road. The withdrawn petition to annex included properties on Acworth Due West Road, Nance Road, South Main Street and Blue Springs Road.
In a certified letter sent to affected landowners April 2, the notice states that these "islands of land" would be brought into the city limits in order to better deliver services.
The meeting adjourned after about two minutes and there was no discussion among the aldermen. After the meeting, Allegood said the decision was based on new information he and the board had received.
"We just said we are not quite ready to move forward with this action," he said. Allegood said city staff is doing more research and would be ready to further comment within the next week. "We're going to sometime probably look at this again in the future but not any time soon," he said.
No pending litigation Allegood said the decision was not based on any pending litigation, but came from comments made during the May 2 meeting by property owners who raised questions and concerns about new state laws governing island annexations.
"It was information that was within the Georgia law that created some concern," Allegood said. "So we are going to rescind the vote and wait until we get better clarification. "Some of the comments we received challenged us to go back and look at the law and, at this time, we're kind of in a due-diligence period and we want to further study and understand annexation laws passed by the state Legislature."
He added that although the May 2 meeting was "rather contentious" with about 12 people speaking out against the annexation, the decision was based more on the substance of the residents' comments than on their opposition to annexation.
Christine Dobbs, community development director, said all affected property owners were initially notified by mail of the annexation. The residents will be notified of the reversed decision via mail, she said.
Property owners surprised by reversal The annexation approved May 2 would have become official on June 1. Allegood said the property owners were not informed in advance of the decision and would be "very surprised" by the reversal - an assumption that proved correct.
Alene Henson, who lives just north of North Cobb High School next to the Summer Springs subdivision and was part of the targeted properties, attended both the special meeting and the subsequent planning and zoning meeting and said city officials would not explain why the decision was made, only that she would receive a letter in the mail.
"They should not leave us hanging like that," she said. The city has "nothing to offer me."
Despite her frustration, Henson said she was happy about the reversal because as a senior citizen living on a fixed income, she's not interested in another tax bill.
"I've lived here 55 years and they just don't have anything to offer me," Henson said of Acworth. "We have Cobb County utilities and water. They of course were stressing better police protection but you can't get much better than Cobb (Police Department)."