DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Following a called meeting and executive session Monday, the Dahlonega City Council voted in a regular meeting to present a consent order to Roberta Green-Garrett and her attorney Joey Homans in hopes of ending a three-year, and at times bitter, dispute centered on Green-Garrett’s desire to build a hotel on a historic site on East Main Street.
The order outlines the city’s requirements for approval. Green-Garrett can accept the consent order, reject it or amend it and return it to council for its approval. Should the council not accept any proposed changes, the matter would move to Superior Court.
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) refused to grant a certificate of appropriateness for the project. Green-Garrett appealed that decision to city council, which ruled the HPC did not abuse its discretion in denying the certificate. Green-Garrett then filed a certiorari petition with the court, and the city has filed a motion to dismiss.
Since then, the two sides have participated in numerous informal discussions, which led to the city drafting the consent order.
That order requires:
- Demolition of the Parks and Butler Buildings;
- A maximum of 75 rooms;
- Rooms that front on E. Main Street to be serviced by central hear and air conditioning;
- An exercise room with equipment;
- Lobby with business office;
- Building height shall not exceed 36.2 feet;
- On-site parking be provided;
- Operation of a daily breakfast lounge, serving at a minimum, a continental breakfast; and
- The hotel be operated pursuant to a franchise agreement with a national hospitality company and maintain at least a 3-star rating.
Councilmen Roman Gaddis and Bruce Hoffman voted against the consent order. Gaddis said, “I do think the consent order is a well-crafted order; however, I think the design is still missing the mark. If you took the façade of what would be the Butler Building and made that clapboard siding just for that one area and took the second and third floor and added porches, those could be the king rooms and suites. Those are the type things people would pay a little more for to have that balcony on Main Street. Then it would conform more to the district.”
Hoffman agreed with parts of the consent order but objected to a franchise hotel with 75 rooms in that location.
“We have a small square, small downtown, small historic district,” he said. “That is way too big for that area. A franchise hotel could go off the square, but I don’t agree it should be there.”
A standing-room-only crowd packed the meeting room. About a dozen area residents chose to speak up during the public comment portion of the meeting. Only one spoke in support of the proposed hotel.
Nita Garrett said she has lived in Lumpkin County since 1978 and her husband was “fourth generation.” She said she believes a hotel would promote tourism and bring a concentration of tourists to the downtown square. “We do not feel like history is being taken away from us,” she said. “I support Ms. Roberta Green-Garrett’s effort to build a hotel.”
John Clower, president of the Dahlonega Downtown Business Association said, “I come before you tonight representing that group. I can tell you I have talked to a number of business owners on the square and the prevailing attitude among those individuals is that, at all costs, the historic nature of our downtown needs to be preserved.”
District 2 County Commissioner Bobby Mayfield who serves on the county’s Economic Development Committee said, “If we want a big time hotel, I’m doing everything I can to get a sewer line put in on Hwy. 400 so we can preserve the square.”
In other action Monday, council members presented certificates to Jimmy Faulkner and Casey Moye in recognition of their years of service on the city’s Planning Commission. Their terms in office have ended and council approved the appointment of Michael W. Feagin and Greg Fender to replace them.
In other decisions, council approved:
- An ordinance that defines and regulates control of domestic animals;
- The designation of cemetery sales for capital improvement;
- An alcoholic beverage license for 19 North Seafood and Grill; and
- New cemetery by laws.
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