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Local News Archives for 2023-05

Union Hill Road to Undergo Multiple Roadway Improvement Projects Set to Begin Next Week

Cherokee County motorists can expect to see multiple closures on sections of Union Hill Road due to roadway improvement projects set to begin next week.

The Cherokee County Roadway Capital Program announced that starting on May 30, and continuing through July 31, Union Hill Road (South) at the intersection with Lower Union Hill Road will be closed to through traffic.

This closure is necessary to facilitate an intersection improvement project, which includes the construction of a roundabout. During this period, Union Hill Road (North) to Lower Union Hill Road will remain open with flagging operations in place, allowing for controlled traffic flow. Old Jones will also remain open to traffic.

To ensure the smooth flow of traffic and provide alternative routes, a posted detour will be in effect throughout the construction period. The designated detour route will guide motorists via Arbor Hill Road, Gaddis Road, and East Cherokee Drive.

For any inquiries related to the detour, please contact the Cherokee County Roadway Capital Program at (678) 493-6077.

In addition to the aforementioned closure, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will also be closing Union Hill Road at Highway 20 starting May 30, as part of the Highway 20 widening project.

GDOT will include a posted detour routing motorists via East Cherokee Drive around to Highway 20.

Construction of the roundabout at Union Hill Road and Lower Union Hill Road is scheduled to conclude by Aug. 1 while GDOT's closure at Union Hill Road and Highway 20 will remain in effect for a duration of 90 days.

The simultaneous closures may result in compounded accessibility issues in the area. Motorists should take note of these closures and plan their routes accordingly.

City of Canton Awarded $4.4M in ARPA Grants from Governor's Office

On May 18, 2023, The Office of the Governor Brian P. Kemp announced recipients of, “preliminary grant awards totaling more than $225 million for 142 qualified projects that improve neighborhood assets like parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, and healthy food access in communities all across the state disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Awarded funds will go to eligible non-profits and local governments to utilize in improving or maintaining recreational facilities in Qualified Census Tracts or for repair or maintenance needs due to significantly greater use of public facilities during the pandemic. The City of Canton was awarded $4.4M for two projects that include pedestrian bridge/sidewalk improvements at Canton Creek and funds for assisting with the development of South Canton Park. City staff began working on the grant applications last August after learning about the potential funding source during a meeting with transportation consultants. The maximum grant award was $2.2M and the City of Canton was one of only three municipal governments to receive multiple maximum grant awards.

"Thanks solely to the hard work of our staff, especially City Engineer Bethany Watson, and the clear vision of a Council that continues to prioritize and implement projects based on the goals established by citizens in our Roadmap for Success, the City of Canton was awarded 2% of the statewide total $225 million dollars in ARPA grants from the Governor's Office of Planning & Budgets,” said Mayor Bill Grant. “This is a huge win for our City and residents, and these funds will be well spent improving the quality of life on two keynote projects that include pedestrian bridge/sidewalk improvements at Canton Creek and the development of our first innovative park in South Canton.”

Residents of Canton provided feedback in the creation of the City’s award-winning Roadmap for Success and the recently approved Canton Transportation Masterplan informing the applications drafted by Ms. Watson. Funds will be utilized in South Canton to establish the first park in this area of the City. While the overall project will include funding from special purpose local option sales taxes and recreational impact fees, the grant funds will be used to address needs for accessible playground equipment and a much-anticipated dog park. 

“Canton residents listed the need for a state-of-the-art dog park as one of their top goals in the Roadmap planning back in 2020,” noted City Manager Billy Peppers. “We look forward to the continued planning of this park and meeting the desires of our citizens.”

The pedestrian link between Sunnyside, Cherokee County’s largest Hispanic neighborhood, and downtown Canton will receive a major improvement with the addition of a Canton Creek pedestrian bridge. “The City’s transportation masterplan called for several projects in this Hickory Flat Highway and Marietta Road corridor,” said City Engineer Bethany Watson. “These state funds will allow us to kick start improvements for pedestrian connectivity with a focus on safety and walkability.” 

“Leading with Excellence is a key tenant in our roadmap,” Grant continued. “Securing grants at this level demonstrates our team’s commitment to moving Canton forward in a fiscally and strategically responsible manner.”

These state grants coincide with other recent grant awards, including over $600,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a pedestrian bridge connecting the current expansion of the Etowah River Trail System back to the award-winning Mill on Etowah, and Atlanta Regional Commission transportation funding for improvements on State Route 140 from Riverstone Parkway to Reinhardt College Parkway.

ARC Awards Livable Centers Initiative Grant to The City of Woodstock

 The Atlanta Regional Commission recently awarded the City of Woodstock a $176,000 grant for the Highway 92 Development Standards Study that seeks to create a new set of development standards along Highway 92. The goal is to pave the way for future economic growth through intuitive, user-friendly standards, intentional architectural design, incorporation of affordable/diverse housing options, and improved walkability. This study will also include a Housing Rehabilitation Program Strategy to retain legacy residents and preserve affordable housing resources. 

Upon completion of the study, the City of Woodstock will be eligible to apply for federal transportation funding for projects like corridor improvements and pedestrian infrastructure to bring the vision to life. Woodstock was one of ten communities across metro Atlanta to receive a grant. Other communities included the Atlanta Airport, and Upper Westside, and Cumberland Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), the cities of Fairburn, Lawrenceville, Sandy Springs, and Stone Mountain, the town of Tyrone, and Douglas County.  

“This year’s LCI grant recipients demonstrate how innovative and bold thinking can transform communities and improve quality of life across the Atlanta region,” said Samyukth Shenbaga, Managing Director of Community Development at ARC. “We look forward to assisting this year's recipients as they pursue their community visions and move metro Atlanta towards a more equitable and resilient future.” 

The LCI program was created in 1999 by ARC to help the region’s communities envision and build healthy, mixed-use, mixed-income developments that help reduce vehicle miles traveled and improve air quality. The program is recognized as a national best practice for how metropolitan planning organizations can lead efforts to alleviate transportation concerns while improving overall quality of life. 

Tax Assessment Notices to be Mailed This Week in Cherokee County

The Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors approved the 2023 Notice of Assessment list May 11, reflecting an overall digest increase of 22 percent, including new construction. Property owners should be receiving their annual property assessment notices this week. The Tax Commissioner’s Office will mail property tax bills later in the year.

Assessors establish their appraisals as of Jan. 1 of each year, as dictated by state law. A crucial part of the assessment process is to review the 2022 market sales and adjust the appraisals as closely as possible to reflect those sales. For 2023, the digest grew 16.2 percent due to inflation and 5.6 percent due to growth.

“As you receive your assessment notices, please look at the Assessor’s Office value and consider if you could sell your house for that amount,” said Chief Appraiser Steve Swindell. “Due to the methodology utilized by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts (DOAA), which determines whether or not the tax assessors are performing their duties properly, and the rapidly changing market we are experiencing, we have completed our appraisals to the absolute highest degree of the standard required by the State of Georgia for 2023.”

Swindell added that if the assessments are below or above what the state considers appropriate following the annual DOAA audit, the county could face penalties of $50 per parcel. Last year, the DOAA indicated the county’s assessment values were too low, however, the Assessor’s Office proved to an independent arbitration panel that the assessments were in the lowest of the required range, within 5 percent of fair market value.

Residential properties with an existing homestead exemption will continue to receive the standard $5,000 exemption and the valuation freeze exemption. The valuation freeze exemption holds a property value to the value set the year the homestead application was filed (for instance, if a homestead application was filed in 2008, then the taxable value remains at the 2008 level). The valuation freeze is applied to county maintenance and operations only.

Those with a senior exemption will see an increase in their exemption amount for school maintenance and operation and school bond taxes, up to $485,500 of fair market value. The senior exemption is adjusted according to the Social Security Index.

Additionally, Gov. Brian Kemp, as part of the state’s $6 billion surplus, has authorized a one-time Property Tax Relief Grant for property owners. Homesteaded properties will see a reduction of their assessed value by $18,000 through the $950 million appropriated to the Department of Revenue. This reduction will be applied to all county, city and school taxes later in the year, except those rates for bond payments (Cherokee County has the parks bond, and the School District has its bond rate). This credit will not appear on the notice of assessment, but it will be included in the tax bill issued by the Tax Commissioner later in the year.

An estimated tax bill notice on the assessment notice is required by state law and is calculated based on the millage rate set last year. Historically, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners has reduced its controlled millage rate to, at least, partially offset the financial impact to property owners. Property owners are encouraged to visit www.cherokeega.com/tax-assessors-office, click on Real Estate Search and ensure the details on their property are correct (number of bedrooms, basement, etc.). This tool also can be used to review sales in the neighborhood.

Those who wish to appeal their assessment value must file an appeal by June 29, which can be done online at www.cherokeega.com/tax-assessors-office by clicking File Appeal. For questions, please call the Tax Assessor’s Office at 678-493-6120.

Public Input Meeting This Thursday For New Park in Cherokee County

Cherokee County residents are invited to attend an upcoming public input meeting to provide feedback on a future park in the Hickory Flat community.

Cherokee Recreation and Parks and the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners will host the first of several public input meetings this Thursday, May 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at The Hickory Flat Gym located at 4835 Hickory Road in Canton. Cherokee Recreation and Parks will host virtual meetings on the project in the future. Dates are to be determined.

The county purchased the 40-acre parcel of land in the spring of 2022, which is located at 5047 East Cherokee Drive, in the amount of $3.2 million using funds from the 2018 Special Local Option Sales Tax. The future park is located on the east side of East Cherokee Drive and adjacent to Hickory Flat United Methodist Church.

Input received at the meeting from the stakeholders and overall community will be used in the development of park concepts, a draft master plan and ultimately a final master plan which will be presented to the Board of Commissioners later in the year.

Free Community Preparedness Classes in Cherokee County

CANTON, GA (May 8, 2023) -- Being prepared could save lives and property, and that’s why the Cherokee Office of Emergency Management and Cherokee E 9-1-1 are hosting several free Community Preparedness 101 classes for residents.

The hour-and-a-half long evening classes are geared at how residents can protect their homes and businesses for disasters. The classes will be led by Emergency Management Director Daniel Westbrook, Deputy EMA Director Rebecah Green and E 9-1-1 Director Shane Bonebrake.

“Preparedness is essential when disaster strikes,” Westbrook said. “Most people don’t think about what they need in an emergency until it is too late. Our team in the Public Services Agency wanted to give interested residents the information they need to be ready for severe weather or other disaster situations.”

Emergency Management will address the types of weather threats and hazards citizens in Cherokee County face, as well as a breakdown of those hazards and the history in Cherokee County. They will also teach residents how to prepare for those situations in their homes and businesses, including making a plan, assembling a ready kit, and identifying alert and notification methods of severe weather and other hazards offered by Cherokee County.

E 9-1-1 will give residents a look into how the E 9-1-1 Center works and provide insight into call-taking procedures and what information call takers and dispatchers need to get first responders to the location quicker.

Space is limited, and advanced registration is required.

 

Thursday, May 25 | 6-7:30 p.m.

Falany Performing Arts Center (Reinhardt University)

7300 Reinhardt College Parkway, Waleska, GA 30183

Limited to 60 people RSVP here: Cherokee County EMA: Community Preparedness 101 (Class 1) (signupgenius.com)

 

Wednesday, May 31 | 6-7:30 p.m.

The Chambers at City Center

8534 Main Street, Woodstock, GA 30188

Limited to 100 people RSVP here: Cherokee County EMA: Community Preparedness 101 (Class 2) (signupgenius.com)

 

Thursday, June 15 | 6-7:30 p.m.

The Bluffs Business Center Conference Room (Ground Level)

1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114

Limited to 30 people RSVP here: Cherokee County EMA: Community Preparedness 101 (Class 3) (signupgenius.com)

 

Thursday, June 22 | 6-7:30 p.m.

Victory Hall at L.B. Buzz Ahrens Recreation Center

7345 Cumming Highway, Canton, GA 30115

Limited to 100 people RSVP here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C4CAAAE2BABF4CF8-community3

Taste of Canton to Showcase 28 Canton Restaurants

Nearly 30 restaurants are ready to dish out their specialties on Thursday, May 11, as the Taste of Canton celebrates its inaugural year. Taste of Canton social media is in full swing and the community reception has been tremendous. The event takes place in Downtown Canton at the historic Mill on Etowah on Thursday, May 11, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. In addition to fantastic food, cocktails, and local brewery choices, patrons will enjoy live music from The Whiskey Holler Band and opening artist Brian Dyer.

 

The Taste of Canton is proud to partner with The Children’s Haven and Cherokee County’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. These important community organizations will be raising funds by selling soft drinks, iced tea, water, and lemonade.

 

This FREE admission event invites patrons to purchase $1.00 tickets to use as currency at the restaurant vendor booths. A wide selection of tastes, including seafood, steaks, tacos, desserts, specialty ice cream and coffee drinks, and scrumptious burgers, will be available for 1–4 tickets per sample. Come early and receive 2 free tickets for each set of twenty 20 tickets purchased. This event accepts credit cards only—no cash.

 

The inaugural Taste of Canton’s participating restaurants include:

 

7 Tequilas Mexican Restaurant

A Cone to Pick LLC

Atomic Biscuit

Bananas + Beehives LLC

Bizarre Coffee Roasters LLC

Branchwater

C'est la Vie

Cherokee Wings & More

Community Burger

Dive Southern Coastal Kitchen

Downtown Kitchen

Fermented Wine Boutique

Four 41 South BBQ Co.

Goin’ Coastal Seafood

J. Michael's Legendary Prime Steakhouse LLC

La Catrina Tacos and Margaritas

Local on North

Magnolia Villa

Nava Southwestern Grill & Bar

Olive Garden, The

Paula’s Zzerts & Joe’s Lonestar Tacos

Piezano’s Pizza

Queenie's Southern Restaurant

Reformation Brewery

Riverstone Corner Bistro

Salty Mule, The

Stout’s Growlers

Whitetail Coffee Co.

 

Thank you to our 2023 Taste of Canton sponsors, including:

Stage Sponsor: The Mill on Etowah

Presenting Sponsor: Enjoy Cherokee

 

For more event information regarding this event, visit www.CantonGA.gov/TasteOfCanton

Cherokee Area Transportation System seeking input on proposed fare increases

The Cherokee Area Transportation System (CATS) is set to host a public hearing and a comment period to gain feedback on proposed changes to several fare schedules.

“CATS fares have gone unchanged since 2007 when the county assumed operations,” said CATS Director Greg Powell. “To help mitigate the impact of the increases to the public, we are proposing to phase in the general fare increases over a two-year period.”

The rate increase, set to go in effect on Oct. 1, 2023, will change the general public fare to $2 per person per trip for 0-5 miles and anything over 5 miles will be an additional $1 per person per trip. Seniors 60 years old and older and veterans will be charged $1 per person per trip for 0-5 miles and anything over 5 miles will be an additional $1 per person per trip. Children 15 and under will ride free and must be accompanied by an adult.

The next rate increase, set to go in effect on Oct. 1, 2024, will change the general public fare to $3 per person per trip for trip for 0-5 miles and anything over 5 miles will be an additional $1 per person per trip. For seniors age 60 and older and veterans, the fare will be $1 per person per trip for 0-5 miles and anything over 5 miles will be an additional $1 per person per trip. Children 15 and under will ride free and must be accompanied by an adult.

The proposed changes stem from the results of the recently completed Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), which found that the CATS fare recovery ratio was among the lowest in the region and recommended raising fares to meet regional standards.

The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, during the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Meeting located in Cherokee Hall at 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

The comment period is under way and will run through June 4. Residents can provide comment in-person by visiting the CATS headquarters located at 884 Univeter Road in Canton or by calling 770-345-6238 or emailing Greg Powell at mgpowell@cherokeega.com. For more information, please visit www.cherokeega.com/Transportation.

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