CORNELIA - Nearly 100 people gathered Tuesday night to learn what to expect if their Habersham County properties are annexed into Cornelia.
While a number of county residents have expressed to city leaders an interest in being inside the city limits to receive services - especially fire protection - many others spoke Tuesday night in opposition or posed questions to city leaders.
A particular concern for several business owners and landlords present is that they don't get to vote in the Nov. 5 referendum on the proposed annexation.
Only those who reside within the proposed annexation area can vote on Nov. 5 or during the early voting period, City Attorney Steve Campbell explained.
Residents of the affected area who are not registered to vote may do so by Oct. 7.
According to figures provided by the city, the proposed annexation includes 464 residents, 283.4 acres, and 4.2 road miles.
Cornelia City Manager Donald Anderson said previously some 270 parcels of land are included in the proposed annexation.
"I'm here to tell you that nobody here really wants to inflict this on people who don't want it," Campbell told those gathered. "The law has created a scenario where the only way to give people who do want it and to even consider it was this method."
Campbell said the mass annexation, so that no islands are created, is the only way for property owners in Lakeview Heights, on Chase Road, or in the other affected areas to come into the city and receive fire protection that is recognized by ISO.
"It comes down to voting, and if you don't want it, don't vote for it," Campbell said. "A lot of people don't live in the city because they don't want to be in the city. I think everybody here understands that."
In order for the Nov. 5 referendum on annexation to pass, 60 percent of the registered voters from the affected area who cast ballots must vote in favor.