Valdosta annexation put on hold - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta annexation put on hold

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July 21, 2005

Valdosta - People who live in these homes are considered county residents now, but as of August 1st, they were set to be annexed into the city. That was the plan until Thursday, when a judge granted a preliminary injunction to postpone the annexation. "Its an effort to make sure all the legal avenues are properly followed before the annexation goes into effect," said Pope Langdale.

Pope Langdale represents three men, including Hoot Gibson, who refuse to become part of the city. "What the city's doing is unconstitutional, its not necessary, its unfair," said Gibson.

A little over 1,200 county residents would be effected by the annexation, and 240 students would eventually transfer from county to city schools. Gibson says it would disrupt both school systems and spread manpower thin at the already short handed police department, but city leaders disagree. "These are islands within the existing city, so our officers are already driving them them, around them," said City Manager Larry Hanson.

Another issue of concern is fire protection. The city fire department relies on hydrants, but because the county doesn't have a public water system, those islands don't have hydrants and they have to rely on tanker trucks.

But city leaders say that shouldn't be a problem. "Based upon having over 2,00 fire hydrants in the city, we're within 1,000 feet of every island and every truck we have has a minimum of 1,000 feet of hose, so we can serve every island with our existing infrastructure," said Hanson.

The judge put the plans on hold for now until the city can make more plans to accommodate the people effected. But Gibson and hundreds of other island residents say they aren't stopping until the annexation is stopped for good. "It's an uphill battle but one that can be won," said Gibson.

It will take about 15 million dollars in infrastructure improvements to accommodate all the county islands. City leaders already have some of that money set aside, and the rest will be paid for with future SPLOST funds.

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