GAINESVILLE - Gainesville's Planning and Appeals Board turned down the city's request to annex 115 unincorporated 'island' properties Tuesday morning during a called meeting at the Justice Center.
Community Development Director Rusty Ligon told the Board the city wants to annex unincorporated properties along Gainesville's gateway corridors as well as island properties that have a commercial use or are commercially zoned. Ligon said annexation would better define the city boundary. It would also streamline response by police and fire department emergency services.
Board members heard from business owners who told them the resulting tax increase from the annexation would cause them a hardship and was not fair, since they would be annexed with no say-so. Under state law, cities have the authority to annex all or any part of unincorporated islands within their limits.
John Jones with Office Pros on Browns Bridge Road said his taxes would go up and claim half his profits.
"We don't have a choice in the matter. I don't live in the city and we can't vote so we have no representation," Jones said. "It's sort of like European government, redistribution with no voice in the matter."
Kenneth Neidenbach, owner of Village Pets on Browns Bridge, said he's expecting another $150 a year in taxes.
"I can't afford it. I cannot afford a tax increase," he said.
A motion from board member John Snyder to approve the city's request died for lack of a second.
"I think its inevitable that eventually all these pockets are going to close up with a request to come into the city," Snyder said. "I think this is a way this can be done at one time and it's fair and equitable."
A motion from Jane Fleming to deny the request drew a 6-1 yes vote. She said she lives in the city by choice but the 'island' property holders do not.
"It's a bad time to ask more from small businesses and to raise their taxes," she said. "I don't want to force these people to come in."
Board member Dexter Stanley compared the request to a forced marriage and said he was opposed to it.
"An arranged marriage or a forced marriage is wrong, it's unethical," Stanley said. "Therefore I can't support this."
City Council takes up its own annexation request at their meeting Tuesday afternoon at 5:30.
Watch for an update on the annexation issue following Tuesday's Gainesville City Council meeting.