Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waycross-Pierce Tussle Reaches Top; City Officials Explain Impact of Losing Land to Legislative Panel in Atlanta

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waycross-Pierce Tussle Reaches Top; City Officials Explain Impact of Losing Land to Legislative Panel in Atlanta

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | Officials from Waycross told a legislative panel Monday of the city's problems in the procedures for shrinking city borders that creates headaches for residents and taxpayers.

The comments came during the first of three meetings by a special committee of the House of Representatives appointed to study how cities change their boundaries. In most cases, cities are adding territory, but July 1, Waycross lost all of its area in Pierce County when state Rep. Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear, won passage of local legislation with no fanfare and no warning to the city.

Nimmer also carried the bill alone with no participation from any of the other legislator whose districts touch Waycross.

"We never were given a letter or any notice of any kind. The bill was presented one day and signed by the governor the next," Waycross Commissioner Diane Hopkins said.

Passage wasn't exactly as fast as she said, but the 21 days it took is essentially lightning speed compared to most legislation.

She asked the committee to require lawmakers to send a certified letter to any affected city and to sign an affidavit that it was sent. Current law requires publishing a legal ad three times, but, as the legislature's lawyer in charge of local bills, Jeff Lanier, said, "We all know the game is that no one ever really reads them."

The legal ad for the legislation that Nimmer introduced said only that it would amend the Waycross city charter and did not say that Nimmer's intention was to compel the city to pull its corporate limits out of Pierce County where it has been since the early 1980s.

Most of the property involved in Waycross was commercial with only three residences impacted. But a bank holding title to a subdivision of about 40 half-acre lots can't sell them without city water and sewer service because the lots are too small for wells and septic tanks, Hopkins said. …

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