Savannah Lane Abandonment Tabled Again

The proposed abandonment of Savannah Lane and part of an adjacent alley in Toccoa remains on the table.

Monday, commissioners once again took up the second reading of the proposed abandonment that the Toccoa First United Methodist Church has requested.

The church owns all of the property surrounding Savannah Lane and the part of the alley proposed to be abandoned and wants it for possible further expansion.

However, some residents on nearby Walnut Street oppose the abandonment because the alley and Savannah Lane provide them secondary, emergency access to their properties.

Last month, the city commission tabled the second reading to allow the two sides to meet and try and work out their differences.

However, the two sides said they have not yet worked it out.

First United Methodist Church Representative Bob Troup said he feels the abandonment should be very straightforward.

“There have been a number of alleys abandoned throughout Toccoa and they typically give it to the two property owners on either side of what they abandoned,” said Troup.

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

In return, daughters of Hilda McCurdy, who owns property at the corner of Walnut and Savannah streets and has been opposed to the abandonment, proposed either extending the alley from North Walnut Street to the existing church parking lot or rerouting that easement to Short Street or thereabout and away from Ms. McCurdy’s property.

Troup said that counter-proposal is unacceptable.

Toccoa City Attorney John Dickerson said that the commission can choose to simply proceed with the abandonment without giving the abandoned property to the church or anyone else at this time.

Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak said he felt that was best course of action.

“I think we would be compounding our issues if we did the abandonment and conveyed the property all in one fell swoop of the ax,” said Pavliscsak.  “If we are going to do this, we should piecemeal it and just abandon the property and let the process evolve.”

Pavliscsak said that would allow more time for any interested parties to make proposals to the city or work things out.

However, City Commissioner Terry Carter said he supports the church’s position.

“I think the fair thing to do is what we have done in the past,” said Carter.  “The church owns the property surrounding the lane so I make a motion that we abandon Savannah Lane and that portion of the alley and give the property to the church, in this case, because they own (property) on both sides.”

Mayor David Austin seconded Carter’s motion in order to discuss.

However, Pavliscsak then moved to table and Austin seconded that as well.

With Commissioners Ron Seib and Gail Fry recusing themselves from the issue because they are members of the church, the motion to table passed with those two votes.