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County objecting to Chatt-Hills annexation

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Oct. 26, 2021 - 7:59 PM

County objecting to Chatt-Hills annexation

The Newnan Times-Herald

Coweta County is objecting to a plan by the city of Chattahoochee Hills to annex a five-acre tract off Tommy Lee Cook Road.

The tract, which is on White Oak Trail, off Cedar Ridge Road, adjoins a 181-acre tract of land that was annexed into Chattahoochee Hills in 2014 and 2017.

If annexed, the 5-acre tract would provide road access to the 181-acre tract.

The larger tract is owned by Serenbe CH Properties LLC. The five-acre tract is owned by Doris Boylen and the applicant is Boylen Land Company. There is no home on the property.

According to a report by the Coweta County Community Development Department, Chattahoochee Hills has approved a residential development with 281 lots for that 181-acre tract. That development would have access through White Oak Trail, and there is also a proposed access onto Shell Road. The five-acre tract to be annexed would be developed with up to five houses.

While all the land is in Coweta County, the residential development couldn't have access onto White Oak Trail without having the land annexed.

According to the report, Chattahoochee Hills has not proffered any road improvements in the area as part of the annexation request.

The Public Works Department stated in the report that White Oak Trail and Cedar Ridge Road would not handle the amount of additional traffic that would be generated from the proposed 281-lot development. The roads are narrow and don't meet the current county standards for width or paving section. There are also site distance issues at the intersection of Cedar Ridge Road and Tommy Lee Cook Road. Improving the roads and the intersection would cost approximately $1.06 million.

The Coweta Water and Sewerage Authority stated in the report that it objects to the annexation. The authority completed a pump station project on Tommy Lee Cook in 2017 and spent $133,000. The annexation would diminish the value or useful capital life of that project.

State law is specific on what constitutes valid grounds for an annexation objection. To be valid, the proposed change in land use from the annexation must create a substantial change in the intensity of the allowable use of the property or a change to a significantly different use; or significantly increase the next cost of infrastructure or diminish the value or useful life of a capital project, and differ substantially from the existing uses suggested for the property under the county's ordinances.

Because both the county and Chattahoochee Hills would use the property for residential use, staff determined that there are not valid grounds for an objection.

In the report, the Community Development Department recommended that the county ask Chattahoochee Hills to contribute funding for the road work and require that homes built on the five-acre tract be served by the authority for water.

Commissioner Tim Lassetter said he is concerned about the county road being used to provide access to the development in Chattahoochee Hills.

Under state law, counties can ask cities to do certain things as part of the annexation process. But it's only asking; there is no requirement for the cities to follow through.

Chairman Bob Blackburn asked about access onto Shell Road. There is a bridge over a creek on Shell Road and he wondered how the Chattahoochee Hills development would handle the creek crossing.

Ben Sewell of the Community Development Department said that the property the city is seeking to annex is south of the creek and that the developers may be wanting to access the property through the White Oak Trail lot to avoid having to cross the creek.

A survey of the property shows significant stream buffers on the lot just to the east.

Commissioner John Reidelbach made a motion to object to the annexation and the vote was 4 to 1, with Commissioner Al Smith opposed.

This is the third annexation that Coweta County has objected to since the current law took effect in 2007. The first was in June of 2020, when the county objected to the city of Newnan's plan to annex land on Parks Road, because of traffic impact concerns. That annexation eventually went forward.

The county also objected to a proposed annexation in Senoia in June of this year because the annexation would have created an "unincorporated island," which is forbidden under state law.