The area known as “Sherwood” adjacent to the City of Danielsville is a neighborhood on the decline.
“Residents of Danielsville have long thought of Sherwood as a ‘bad apple,’” said Danielsville mayor Todd Higdon. “Nobody has ever wanted to address the issue of Sherwood, but the truth is about 60 percent of that community is comprised of upstanding valuable citizens and taxpayers who want better for themselves and their community.”
And Higdon said he and city officials hope to help.
“We want to annex that community into the city limits,” he said. “We want to deter the negative that is there by making it a part of us.”
Higdon noted that Danielsville already provides water service to the community and he and the council feel that they can provide more services that will improve the community.
He pointed out that Danielsville, like most of the towns in the county, has more stringent ordinances than the county in regards to things such as building code violations.
“We could be a lot tougher (than the county) on some of these rental properties, making sure they are kept up better,” he said.
He also said the city is in a position to provide more regular police patrols and more maintenance efforts to keep the roads and roadsides maintained.
“I’m not trying to throw the county under the bus, it’s just that the county and the sheriff’s department have a lot more on their plates, a much bigger area to keep up with, ” Higdon said.
Plans are to also install streetlights that will further help to deter crime.
“Bottom line, we feel like we can offer those residents a cleaner, nicer and safer neighborhood,” Higdon said, adding that the city already bears the “burden” of the negative aspects of this community, dealing with a “fair amount” of theft and drug problems that many believe originate there.
“There are a lot of out-of-county cars going in and out of there at all hours, and that can’t be for a good reason,” he said.
Higdon said he hopes that all city residents will realize that annexing Sherwood will be a benefit to the entire town. “We need for Sherwood to be as nice a place as Northridge or Long Estates is,” he said. “And it can be. This will be a start.”
Though many may believe that Sherwood is already inside the city limits, the fact is that only three of Sherwood’s 55 residences (those located at the entrance to Sherwood Drive off Sunset Avenue) belong to the city – the rest are outside city limits.
Sherwood is comprised of both mobile homes and stick-built houses, many that have been there since land for the subdivision was divided and sold about 25 years ago.
A ride through the streets of Sherwood Drive, Hillwood Drive, Hillwood Circle and Sherwood Circle, is a study in contrast — nice homes with manicured lawns are standing shoulder-to shoulder with rundown, burnt-out homes and trailers, many of which are years behind on taxes.
“There are actually people living in some of those derelict homes,” Higdon noted.
He says most of the well-kept residences belong to property owners, while most of the rundown properties are rentals where landlords don’t keep up the properties or require much from their tenants in the way of maintaining those properties.
It was last year’s hike in Danielsville’s outside of city limits water prices that piqued city officials’ interest in annexation. Several Sherwood homeowners came to council meetings inquiring about their water rates, which rose significantly under the new rate scale. With today’s rates, residential water customers inside the city limits pay a base rate of $15 for up to 2,000 gallons; while those outside the city pay a $26 minimum rate. For many Sherwood residents, who also live on fixed incomes, the rate hike is a burden. Higdon pointed out that decreased water rates under annexation would more than make up for any city taxes property owners will incur.
“And they’ll be getting a cleaner, safer environment and that means a lot,” he said.
But Higdon cautioned that the changes won’t all come overnight – if an annexation is approved by city and Sherwood community residents — a drop in water rates and increased patrols would happen quickly — but other things such as property clean ups and street lights would take a while.
But first, city officials are waiting on an answer from county officials on whether or not they will bring the streets of Sherwood up to code — something city officials say the county must do before they can proceed.
“Those roads are in dire straits,” Higdon said. “They’ve not been maintained (by the county) in a long time…. they need grading, patching and repaving. They need signage for the speed bumps.” Higdon said most of the streets are too narrow, mainly because weeds and other growth have overtaken several feet along the edges of the pavement.
Higdon said he has spoken with county leaders and is waiting for word on what they plan to do to bring the roads up to spec.
“No one can expect the city to inherit them the way they are,” he said, adding that he hopes county officials make the decision a priority.
“The truth is the residents of Sherwood deserve better than what the city or the county has done for them to this point,” he said. “We hope the county is going to step up now.”
City attorney Dale Perry said once the annexation will be a “150-day process,” which makes it too late to place the annexation question on the November election ballot.
“The annexation vote will likely be held during the general primary next year, whenever the state legislature sets that date,” he said. Those voting on the annexation issue would include city of Danielsville and Sherwood residents and the election would be held at the county complex instead of at city hall.
As for the county’s part, board of commission chairman Anthony Dove said he personally would like to see Sherwood annexed into Danielsville and thinks it would be a good move for the residents.
“I think it’d be great if there were increased police patrols in that area, with a policeman riding through every couple of hours, especially overnight,” he said.
And as to the road issue, Dove said some work is already being done in the neighborhood – such as the clearing out of ditches and cleaning up of weeds and debris along roadsides.
“I’m sure that anything we can do with county workers, such as (road) patching, we’ll do,” Dove said, but added that a total resurfacing project would not be something that could be done in the near future.
“It’s like everything other project like that, it’d be put on a list to be done as funds become available,” he said. “We are always willing to help the cities with projects in any way we can.”
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