Savannah Lane Abandonment on Hold

The Toccoa City Commission puts a hold on abandoning a local side street.

Monday, Toccoa City Commissioners voted to table the second reading of the abandonment of Savannah Lane and part of an adjacent alley.

Two weeks ago, commissioners voted 2 to 1 in favor of the abandonment, which has been requested by the Toccoa First United Methodist Church.

The church owns all of the property surrounding Savannah Lane and the part of the alley proposed to be abandoned and wants to have that available to them for further expansion.

However, some residents who live on nearby Walnut Street remain opposed to the abandonment because the alley and Savannah Lane provide them secondary access to their properties if Walnut Street is blocked for some reason.

In an effort to alleviate that concern, the church has offered an eight-foot easement, the same width as the alley, down the side of its property to allow for such emergency access.

However, opponents of the abandonment say they do not want that either.

With both sides remaining entrenched in their positions Monday night, City Commissioner Andy Pavliscsak said the church and neighborhood should head back to the drawing board.

“I think the issue is there is still room for discussion,” said Pavliscsak, who added he wanted it vetted more before coming back to the commission.

“I do not think we are ready to split this baby,” said Pavliscsak.

Pavliscsak also expressed other concerns about the abandonment.

He said some of the discussion that took place before the Planning Commission did not match up with what was said to the city commission.

Meanwhile, Planning Commission member Evan Hellenga said he has concerns that a vehicle could not use that easement as it could potentially use the alley right now.

“In my estimation, a safe ingress and egress would be something that a vehicle could traverse,” said Hellenga.  “There is nothing short of a monster truck that would go out of that area right now.”

That said, Toccoa City Commissioner Terry Carter said that the city does not currently maintain Savannah Lane or the alley in question.

“I am wondering if it smart use of tax money to finish paving it,” said Carter.  “We have not maintained it.”

Opponents disagreed, saying that it is still an emergency way in and out of the property.

Pavliscsak also suggested that if the abandonment occurs, the property should be sold as surplus instead of given to the church outright.

Toccoa City Attorney John Dickerson said that it can be handled either way based on the decision of the commission.

Following discussion, commissioners voted unanimously to table the matter until their meeting on December 16 and encouraged the church and opponents of the abandonment to meet and try and work out their differences.

As members of the church, Commissioners Gail Fry and Ron Seib recused themselves from the vote.