The city of Toccoa will abandon a local side street, allowing a downtown church the ability to take over the property for its use.
Monday, Toccoa City Commissioners voted 2 to 1 to abandon Savannah Lane and a portion of an adjacent alley at the request of the Toccoa First United Methodist Church.
The church owns the property that surrounds Savannah Lane, which is a small street off of East Savannah Street. The adjacent alley involved connects Savannah Lane to Walnut Street.
Bob Troup with the First United Methodist Church said the church would like the road abandoned to allow the church to have room for expansion, perhaps something like a family life center.
“We are really not sure because we cannot spend money on a lot of architectural work until we know what we have got to work with,” said Troup of the church’s expansion plans.
City commissioners turned this request down twice before from the church, most recently in August 2012 because neighboring residents had concerns about not having the alley as a secondary access to their property if Walnut Street, a dead-end street, could not be used for some reason.
As part of its request this time, the church agreed to grant an 8-foot easement on the eastern edge of its property to allow those residents affected emergency access in and out of their property if Walnut Street could not be used.
Christen Collier also spoke on behalf of the church.
He said it would be the same width as the current alley way.
“We did that in consideration of the fact that we want to be good neighbors,” said Collier. “If something happens as far as weather is concerned, I can understand the concern as far as needing to exit the property.”
However, that solution did not satisfy a number of property owners in that area.
Vern Wilson said that the neighborhood does not want to see anything happen to Savannah Lane.
“We have a perfectly good road in Savannah Lane,” said Wilson. “You can bring a truck in or an ambulance in and it gives us two ways in and out.”
Meanwhile, Sandra McCurdy Poole spoke on behalf of her mother, Hilda McCurdy, who lives at the corner of Walnut and Savannah streets.
She said the easement would completely surround her mother’s house and would potentially bring traffic too close to her mother’s home.
Commissioner Terry Carter and Mayor David Austin voted for the abandonment, provided the church pay for utility relocation costs and provide the easement.
Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak voted against the abandonment.
“First, let me say that the commission voted to abandon the alley and I support the commission’s decision, but it was pretty obvious to me with the differences in the conversation that took place here tonight, there were discrepancies with regard to who said what and how things came into being,” said Pavliscsak. “I wish the church and the families involved would have spent more time together and worked this out themselves without this becoming a city of Toccoa issue.”
Commissioners Gail Fry and Ron Seib both recused themselves from the discussion because they are members of the First United Methodist Church.
Toccoa City Commissioners also approved a re-zoning request during Monday’s meeting.
Stephens County Habitat for Humanity made the request to re-zone about 1.83 acres of property on Peachtree Street from Restricted Industrial to Two-Family Residential.
City commissioners approved that request unanimously.