Members of the Cherokee County legislative delegation discussed the latest attempt at reversing an annexation from the City of Woodstock in a meeting Thursday.
During a Zoom meeting Thursday afternoon, Rep. Brad Thomas talked about a bill he was preparing for submission to the Georgia House of Representatives, legislation that would essentially nullify an annexation Woodstock approved for 148 acres of land along Arnold Mill Road.
Thomas said one of the key reasons he was planning to submit the bill was that he believed those living near the land had not had their voices fully heard on the matter. In his argument, he stated that the initial survey used during the annexation case and a follow-up survey showed discrepancies in certain measurements.
“This all has to do with local control,” Thomas said in a subsequent interview. “The people on Arnold Mill Road are the true locals. We are giving these people their voice back.”
A similar bill, SB 502, was introduced into the Georgia State Senate during the 2019-2020 session by Sen. Brandon Beach. This bill was approved by the Senate, but stalled out upon reaching the House of Representatives. Although Beach’s bill died before coming to a vote in the lower chamber, he and Rep. John Carson vowed to continue the fight in the current legislative session.
Both Thomas and Carson said the main difference between this new piece of legislation and Beach’s bill from the previous legislative session was that Thomas’ bill was being written in a way that it would affect only the specific property on Arnold Mill Road. As there have been other annexation cases involving the city of Woodstock within the past year, Thomas said he wanted to be sure his proposed bill did not inadvertently de-annex any other portion of land the city may have acquired.
“I want to make sure we do our due diligence, and make sure this bill only deals with the specific portion being annexed,” he said.
This annexation has been a source of contention since it was approved by the Woodstock City Council. Cherokee County filed a lawsuit in state court to reverse the annexation, stating that portions of land along the chain of land linking the city to the annexed land did not meet requirements put forth by state law. Cherokee County Superior Court ruled in favor of Woodstock in February 2020, a decision the county appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Following Thursday’s meeting, Thomas said he hoped his bill would be ready to submit to the House in the very near future, once all of the due diligence he is putting toward this is completed. Although it is not yet ready to go, Carson said he feels an overall sense of confidence moving forward.
“I feel more emboldened than ever to stand up for these people,” he said. “The area affected is right between our two districts, and we want to stand up for the people who don’t have a voice otherwise.”