Legislation and elections have consequences. Sunday sales legislation passed a few years ago allows counties and municipalities to put for a referendum to the electorate on whether or not that county or municipality will be allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday. An interesting thing happened in Catoosa County this past election cycle: Sunday sales passed in Ringgold and unincorporated Catoosa County. Fort Oglethorpe offered up the referendum in 2011, but it failed to gain a majority.
So, you have an area that prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sundays mostly surrounded by an area that allows it. Now, here comes along Northwest Georgia Bank that has foreclosed upon some 41 acres of land zoned as commercial within the city. It’s trying to get those pieces off of its books, so what does the bank in question do? Seek the de-annexation of the property from the City of Fort Oglethorpe. The rationale? The parcels might sell contingent on the ability to sell alcohol on Sundays. From CatWalkChatt (a conglomeration of the Catoosa County News and Walker County Messenger):
“We have been in negotiations to sell the property subject to the availability of Sunday alcohol sales,” bank executive vice president Kerry Riley told the city council on Feb. 11, prior to them refusing to vote on the de-annexation.
Riley expected the council’s reaction and immediately submitted the de-annexation request to the state legislature.
But almost two weeks later, [Mayor Lynn] Long is still fighting to keep this property from being annexed into the county.
The City of Fort Oglethorpe is against it (duh), and that may be a large factor in the local legislative delegation’s decision on whether to send it through the legislative process or not:
A letter from Long, dated Monday, Feb. 25, was sent to four local House lawmakers. This letter requested lawmakers not to introduce local legislation to de-annex any property from Fort Oglethorpe. Long specified in the letter that the question of Sunday alcohol sales would be on the November ballot.
“My intent is to make sure everybody in the legislature and north Georgia knows the city does not want this commercial property to be de-annexed from the city,” Long said Friday. “I am sorry they got this property in a foreclosure and need to sell it, but we don’t want property de-annexed from the city.”
“I have never heard of the state legislature removing property through de-annexation without the city’s approval,” Long said. “And if the state de-annexes them, we will just annex it right back. That is our right because of an intergovernmental agreement (based on providing water and sewer to areas within the county).”
I believe the mayor should’ve added “so there” for effect after the part of re-annexing that property if it were de-annexed. An interesting drama comprising of a bank trying to sell property to the high bidder any way it can, a city that doesn’t want to let go, and all over the issue of alcohol. Grab an adult beverage of your choosing. It could get interesting.