Social Circle City Council denies annexation

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The Social Circle City Council denied a request to annex more than 112 acres of land in Newton County into the city limits.

City Manager Doug White said the City Council voted unanimously last Tuesday against the request because ownership of the land is apparently in dispute among family members.

Steven L. Walker and Staci D. Walker, executors of the estate of Ruth P. Walker and Jocelyn Scott Walker, had requested several months ago to annex into Social Circle 112.873 acres located on Social Circle Road, on the north side of Interstate 20.

The City Council was prepared to vote on the annexation in February. Prior to the vote, Portia Scott, the aunt of Steven Walker and Staci Walker, addressed the council and said that she is a co-owner of the property and was unaware of this petition for annexation until a week earlier.

"This land has been in dispute since 2000," Scott said during the Feb. 21 meeting. "I would think I would have to sign something to say I want to annex into the city, but I haven't signed anything."

Scott said her mother left the land in question to her and her sister, Jocelyn Scott Walker. Scott's mother died in 1996 and her sister died two years later. Jocelyn Scott Walker's children, Steven and Staci Walker, are now listed as executor and executrix of the estate.

Portia Scott said no formal litigation on the property has ever been filed because she has not wanted to initiate a lawsuit against family, but the estate has never been settled.

While City Attorney Joe Reitman recommended that the City Council vote on the annexation with a contingency that it would be annulled if it were proven that the land was in legal dispute, Councilman Steve Shelton made a motion to table the annexation until some of these issues could be clarified.

The matter was brought back to the City Council on Tuesday at which time the council voted unanimously to deny the request for annexation.

"Ms. Scott did not want to annex this time, and upon re-reading of the will, the city attorney advised that we had been misled in our understanding of the family ownership of the property," White said on Thursday. "Apparently, (Ms. Scott) still has a voice in that and she didn't want to come in the city at this time."

In other news, the city is continuing to work on establishing zones where golf carts would be permitted.

The City Council approved in November an ordinance that would allow motorized carts to travel on city streets.

Through the ordinance, the golf carts are largely confined to subdivisions, which are isolated from busy city streets, and cannot exceed 25 mph. They would not be permitted on any state highways, such as Ga. Highway 11, which runs through the center of Social Circle. However, White said the city hasn't clearly defined zones where the golf carts can be operated and has asked the city's Public Safety Department to identify areas where the vehicles can be operated in town without crossing Ga. Highway 11.