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Wednesday October 28th, 2020 4:42PM

Habersham County fails to accept agreement with Baldwin over annexation

By Rob Moore Reporter

Following a lengthy, open discussion with residents from the Thompson Road and Wilbanks Road area early last week, the Habersham County Commission voted 3-2 Thursday against accepting a negotiated settlement with the City of Baldwin and developers.

“The commission voted not to accept the negotiated settlement,” a statement issued by Habersham County reads. “Because no agreement was reached and the arbitration panel is unable to meet by the statutory deadline, the county’s objection to the Baldwin annexation has failed and the property may be annexed and developed at the discretion of the City of Baldwin.”

The 145-acre property currently is located just outside the Baldwin city limits.

At last Monday’s meeting, commissioners took an unconventional show of hands vote of those in the audience regarding whether they supported the county entering into the intergovernmental agreement with the City of Baldwin and the developers. All those in the audience expressed their desire for the county not to enter the agreement.

Habersham County Commissioner Natalie Crawford, who is in her final months in the position, told those in attendance she wanted to do what she felt is best for the residents and the county, therefore she made a motion to enter into the agreement with Baldwin that reduced the number of residential units from more than 700 to around 500, with the developer participating in the cost of required road improvements to serve the increased traffic.

Crawford’s motion last Monday died for lack of a second.

After the failed vote, several residents said they did not understand the issue at hand because they had not been able to review the proposed agreement document.

Earlier last Monday night, the Baldwin City Council voted unanimously to enter the proposed agreement with Habersham County and the developers.

Commissioners met in a called meeting Thursday night to consider the negotiated agreement again, but ultimately voted 3-2 against, removing any hurdle for Baldwin to allow the developers to proceed with full development of the property.

The proposed agreement would have reduced the density of the development, while requiring the City of Baldwin and developers to participate in road and infrastructure upgrades.

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