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Posted: March 26, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Burgess speaks on de-annexation

Social Circle Mayor James Burgess spoke to the Concerned Citizens of Social Circle on Tuesday evening and explained his feelings opposing the proposed de-annexation of several properties in Newton County.

"I feel our boundary should go to I-20," Burgess said. "That’s where we will grow. Not towards Monroe… We welcome people into the city, but we don’t force people in."

Burgess stated that the city needed to hold onto its land for many reasons, including for tax reasons (even undeveloped, it generates $75,000 per year), potential loss in potential local option sales tax and SPLOST monies, and because the petitioner could still try to get the property rezoned for the complex, but would have to go through Newton County instead of the city of Social Circle.

"It seems like Newton County feels like we (Social Circle) are not good enough to be a part of Newton County," Burgess said.

Burgess also stated that the city should try to hold the Highway 11 corridor to ensure it would be kept a scenic entry into the city.

Burgess could not comment either way on the issue of the drag strip itself in order not to show prejudice, but stated that the city needed to hold onto its land. If anything, Burgess believed the city should try to spread further south.

The drag strip controversy began in November when property owner Donnie Clack sent a petition to the planning and zoning commission requesting his property off U.S. Highway 278 be rezoned from agriculture to commercial, with a conditional use to allow a motorsports complex to be built on site. Clack’s property was annexed into the city in 2008.

Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) proposed legislation earlier this month that would cause all Social Circle land (approximately 1,200 acres) in Newton County would be de-annexed and returned to Newton. Holt stated that it would be a "permanent solution" to the drag strip controversy that has been sweeping Social Circle since November.

The bill had its first reading in the house on Wednesday. In order for the bill to go before the governor, it will also need the signatures of Rep. Jeff May (R-Loganville) and Senator John Douglass (R-Social Circle). At this time, both remain undecided on whether they will sign the bill or not.

Several CCoSC members demanded to know if Burgess had known Clack’s intentions for the land when it was first annexed. Both Burgess and Councilmember David Keener (District 3) told the gathered CCoSC members that the first they heard of Clack’s intentions was when Clack came before the council last December.

The CCoSC meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Social Circle First Baptist Church. Several realtors and appraisers will be speaking at the next meeting.

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