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Kolter sues Hoschton over impact fees

Kolter has filed a lawsuit against the City of Hoschton and its officials in a bid to halt the town's recent vote to implement impact fees.

Kolter, the developer of a 2,600-home project in the town known as Twin Lakes, filed its suit Oct. 2 in the Superior Court of Jackson County.

The suit seeks an injunction to stop the city from collecting around $2,900 in impact fees on new homes in the city. The impact fee system was created over the summer in an effort to collect funds from the Kolter project.

The lawsuit says that Hoschton has "been engaged in an ongoing crusade to extract as much money out of Plaintiffs as possible..."

In the suit, Kolter said it had to threaten litigation against the town over the summer to have the city council lift an unexpected building moratorium. 

"This action is brought by Plaintiffs in order to stop Defendants from enforcing the City of Hoschton's recently adopted Impact Fee Ordinance against Plaintiffs because the ordinance is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void," says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that Kolter has invested millions of dollars in its massive residential project, including providing funds to upgrade Hoschton's water and sewerage infrastructure, and was blindsided by the city's move to put impact fees on the development.

"These expenditures and contracts (with builders) were made and entered into based upon detailed development budgets that, understandably, did not account for an additional expense of millions of dollars in impact fees that Plaintiffs had no reason to anticipate before incurring development costs and contractual obligations," the lawsuit says.

Kolter argues in the suit that its development will pay for the increased cost of city services without impact fees being put into place. While the city does not currently levy a property tax, it does collect a share of county sales tax income.

In the suit, Kolter also said that the city had not lived up to its side of a contract to develop water and sewerage infrastructure for the development and that existing water pressure in the development is very low. It says the city was notified in April that it was in breach of its contract with Kolter over water and sewerage development.

LAWSUIT

Among other things, the suit alleges that Hoschton:

• rushed the impact fee process "without any meaningful input from either the public or members of the development community."

• had published conflicting legal notice advertising about the dates and times for public hearings.

• had created an illegal advisory committee for the impact fees that didn't conform to state law.

• held a public hearing on Aug. 10 for the impact fees, but left that off the city's published agenda until the time of the meeting.

• failed to publish legal advertising for the town's second public hearing about impact fees.

• failed to distinguish the impact fees for various kinds of residential developments, i.e. single-family, townhomes, apartments, age-restricted, etc. The suit points out that the city did distinguish between various kinds of commercial projects in its impact fee ordinance, but failed to do so in its residential fees.

• created impact fees for a non-existent police department. The suit included a recent Facebook statement by Hoschton Mayor Shannon Sell that says the city has not decided to defiantly create a police department. (The city has since deleted its Facebook page.)

• failed to consider that residents in the Kolter project would be paying property taxes to the West Jackson Fire District for fire protection and that the city itself does not have a fire department.


News
featured
Help celebrate a special birthday for ‘Camden the Conqueror’

At just five years old, one Braselton boy has conquered more battles than most people will in their entire lives. His family calls him “Camden the Conqueror.”

They hope the community will come together for a parade this weekend to celebrate Camden’s next milestone: His sixth birthday.

The family plans a birthday parade for Camden on Saturday, Oct. 10, beginning at 10:30 a.m. It will begin at Camden’s orthopedic office at Alliance Prosthetics and Orthotics, 1235 Friendship Rd., Suite 115, Braselton. The parade will travel through the Riverstone Subdivision and follow the arrows to Camden’s house and back out of the neighborhood.

“We ask that people participating tie a ribbon to their car so that everyone knows you're part of the parade,” said Camden’s mom, Lynn Kidd. “…We would love to have anybody who wants to come drive your car, truck, motorcycle or whatever you have to help celebrate his big day.”

CAMDEN THE CONQUEROR

When Kidd was pregnant with Camden, there weren’t any signs that he’d have medical issues.

“Every ultrasound I ever had showed he was a perfectly healthy child,” said Kidd. “The second he was born, I knew something was up…”

Camden was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit and Kidd later learned he had Down Syndrome and a serious heart condition. He was ultimately life-flighted to Egleston Hospital in Atlanta.

“Basically, he was born with the outside of his heart, not the valves or the tubes on the inside,” said Kidd.

His white blood count was also extremely high and they later learned he had a form of leukemia.

Camden was given chemotherapy treatments and hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

“It’s what saved his life, basically,” said Kidd. “It did all the work for his heart and his lungs for him.”

The hospital staff cleaned his blood and gave him transfusions and Camden went on a ventilator to try to help him learn how to breathe.

He was in the NICU for three months before he was sent home with a feeding tube.

At just 7 months old, Camden underwent open heart surgery. The doctor built the valves and chambers for his heart.

Camden was sent home and now visits a cardiologist each year. With the exception of a slight murmur, the surgery appears to have been a success.

Around his second birthday, doctors again found leukemia cells in Camden’s blood. He was admitted into the hospital on his second birthday to start chemo for acute myeloid leukemia and spent all the major holidays in the hospital that year.

“He’s overcome what I think no one else could ever do,” said Kidd.

Since then, Camden has been learning to do the life skills he didn’t get to learn through experience. He had to use a walker to learn to walk. He’s still non-verbal and communicates mostly through sign language and a speech tablet.

“He didn’t get the normal experience that kids get at that age to learn how to communicate,” said Kidd. “…He’s learning all of these skills that kids would have learned at 2 and 3 years old. He’s having to learn them now at 6.”

CELEBRATING CAMDEN

This is the first year that Camden hasn’t had to go to the hospital.

“This is our celebratory (birthday),” said Kidd.

But given COVID restrictions and Camden’s compromised immune system, he can’t celebrate his birthday with friends and family. Camden is the youngest child in the family.

“He has a 22-year-old sister named Morgan Keith, who is engaged to Byron Moon. He has a 21-year-old brother, Nelson Keith, and a 19-year-old brother, Brandon Keith. He is loved and treasured by his family. Momma (Lynn Kidd) Dada (Drew Martin), grandmas Glorettia Kidd and Diane Alaraj, and a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins. They all call him Camden the Conqueror because of all he has overcome,” said Kidd.

Kidd said the family wants to do a big parade to celebrate his birthday.

She stressed that the family doesn’t want money or presents. But they encourage people to make a donation to the CURE Foundation or to Egleston Cape Day.

“We’re not asking for any money. We’re not asking for any presents,” she said. “…our main goal is we want to have him excited for his parade and know how much he’s loved and how many lives he’s touched.”


News
Two more resident deaths reported at personal care home

Two more residents of a Braselton-area personal care home have died from COVID-19.

The Georgia Department of Community Health reported Oct. 5 that six residents of the Oaks at Braselton have died from COVID-19. (Four resident deaths had been reported the week prior.)

The Oaks at Braselton is a personal care home on Thompson Mill Rd.

Eleven residents have tested positive, with five having recovered. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID.

HOSPITAL SYSTEM

As of Oct. 5, Northeast Georgia Health System was treating 70 positive COVID-19 patients, with 14 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. That's down from the week prior on Sept. 28, when the hospital system was treating 87 patients with 20 at NGMC Braselton.

Ventilator usage is at 43%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 2,374 patients discharged.

There have been 323 deaths.

BRASELTON AREA

The Georgia Department of Public Health reports 323,714 cases in the state, with 28,987 hospitalizations and 7,192 deaths.

In Braselton’s four-county area, there have been:

•Barrow: 2,286 cases; 247 hospitalizations; 48 deaths

•Gwinnett: 28,129 cases; 2,726 hospitalizations; 417 deaths

•Hall: 9,639 cases; 989 hospitalizations; 158 deaths

•Jackson: 2,074 cases; 170 hospitalizations; 35 deaths


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featured
Early in-person voting begins Oct. 12

Early in-person voting for the Nov. 3 General Election begins Monday, Oct. 12.

For absentee ballot information, polling locations or sample ballots, visit mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Details on early in-person voting for Braselton's four-county area are listed below:

JACKSON COUNTY

Early in-person voting in Jackson County for the Nov. 3 General Election will begin Monday, Oct. 12 at the Gordon Street Center in Jefferson and in Braselton and Commerce.

Early voting will run from Oct. 12 to Oct. 30.

  • Gordon Street location — The first two weeks, voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. The third week, Oct. 26-30, voting will be available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Saturday voting will also be available Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Braselton location — Early voting will also be available at the Braselton Police and Municipal building in Braselton.  That voting location will only be open Oct. 26-30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Commerce location — Early voting will also be available at the Commerce Recreation Department on Carson St.  That voting location will only be open Oct. 26-30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

GWINNETT COUNTY

Eligible voters in Gwinnett County may vote advance in person every day, including weekends, from October 12 to October 30 at the following locations:

  • Gwinnett Voter Registrations and Elections Beauty P. Baldwin Building, 455 Grayson Hwy., Suite 200, Lawrenceville, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Bogan Park Community Recreation Center, 2723 North Bogan Rd., Buford, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Lenora Park Gym, 4515 Lenora Church Rd., Snellville, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Dacula Park Activity Building, 2735 Old Auburn Rd., Dacula, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center, 4651 Britt Rd., Norcross, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • George Pierce Park Community Recreation Center, 55 Buford Hwy., Suwanee, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Lawrenceville, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Mountain Park Activity Building, 1063 Rockbridge Rd., Stone Mountain, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Shorty Howell Park Recreation Center, 2750 Pleasant Hill Rd., Duluth, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

HALL COUNTY

Voters in Hall County will be able to cast their ballots Mondays through Fridays between Oct. 12 and Oct. 30 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., as well as on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting locations include:

  • Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center Activity Hall, 1855 Calvary Church Rd., Gainesville.
  • City of Gainesville Downtown Building (old Turner Wood and Smith building), 100 Brenau Ave. Gainesville.
  • East Hall Community Center, 3911 P. Davidson Rd., Gainesville, GA 30507
  • Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 J.M. Turk Rd., Flowery Branch.
  • Mundy Mill Precinct, 4335 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood, GA 30566 
  • Murrayville Library, 4796 Thompson Bridge Rd., Gainesville.
  • North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Rd., Gainesville.
  • Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Rd., Flowery Branch.

BARROW COUNTY

In-person advance voting will take place Oct. 12-30 at the Barrow County elections office, primarily on weekdays (Monday through Friday). For the first two weeks, voting will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. before expanding by two hours (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Oct. 26-30.

Barrow County is also offering two Saturday voting sessions on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


News
Hoschton plans town hall meeting Oct. 20

Hoschton plans a town hall meeting with the city's mayor and council.

The event will be held Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 6-8 p.m. on the green space next to city hall (79 City Sq., Hoschton).

Citizens are encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact city hall at 706-654-3034 or email city clerk Jennifer Harrison at jkidd@cityofhoschton.com.


News
Hoschton planners recommend denial of Twin Lakes plat

The City of Hoschton ramped up its dispute with the town's largest landowner and developer this week with a recommendation to deny a routine approval of preliminary plat.

The Hoschton Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denying Phase 4 of the Twin Lakes development for 53 lots. The town's planning official had recommended approval of what is usually a routine matter.

The issue now goes to the Hoschton City Council for final action.

The planning board's move come on the heels of another dispute between Kolter, the developer of Twin Lakes, and the town.

Last week, Kolter filed a lawsuit against Hoschton over the city council's move to implement impact fees, an action aimed at the massive Twin Lakes project.

Planning board chairman Scott Butler referred to the impact fee dispute and lawsuit as a reason to recommend denial of the plat.

"I'm going to call for a vote to deny the plat for Twin Lakes subdivision based on the lack of the impact fees being able to move forward due to the lawsuit," Butler said after giving a second to the motion.


News
Bridge closures planned in county

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently announced upcoming bridge closures planned in Jackson County.

SR 332 bridges over Walnut Creek and its overflow will be closed to traffic in the coming weeks.

"In order to proactively prepare for the traffic detour created by the bridge closures changes to the intersection of SR 124 and SR 60 have started," the GDOT said in a news release.

The following changes are planned:

  • A new left turn lane on SR 124.
  • A new temporary traffic signal at SR 124 at SR 60
  • Right-in, right-out only access modification to Sam Freeman Road.

The work to construct a left turn lane on SR 124 has widened the route by 6-feet on either side of SR 60. The traffic signal is a temporary traffic control measure and it will remain in place until the planned roundabout project is constructed at this intersection.

The traffic signal will be activated (red) Wednesday, Oct. 7, and start a 24-hour all-way stop condition for the intersection that day. On Thursday, October 8, the signal will become fully operational and control traffic at the intersection.

The bridge replacement project is in Jackson County, 1.5 miles south of the City of Pendergrass along SR 332. Previously, the bridges were scheduled to close to traffic on October 1, however Georgia DOT is working with utility partners to relocate a water line prior to closing the bridges.

The project proposes to replace two deficient bridges crossing Walnut Creek and Walnut Creek Overflow. The proposed roadway consists of two 12-foot lanes with 10-foot rural shoulders (4-feet paved, and 6-feet grassed). Both proposed bridges will have two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot outside shoulders. The proposed project length is approximately 0.28 mile.