FT. OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) -- The mayor of one north Georgia city is fighting a losing battle to keep a good portion of land from being de-annexed from city limits. And, it all boils down to alcohol sales.
The 42-acre piece of property is along an undeveloped portion of Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe, just east of Dietz Road.
Northwest Georgia Bank repossessed the land after the owner failed to make payments and it now has a buyer that's interested. The only catch is the buyer wants a business there that could sell alcohol on Sunday. Sunday sales are allowed in the county but not in the city of Fort Oglethorpe.
"Anything on Battlefield Parkway with a traffic count of 55,000 people, with the amount of money that's riding in each one of those cars, is a prime piece of property. That's high dollar dirt," says Ft. Oglethorpe Mayor Lynn Long.
A 42-acre piece of land is up for grabs in Fort Oglethorpe. But the potential buyer wants nothing to do with the city that contains the land.
"Everything boils down to money," says Long.
More specifically, he says money that could come from Sunday alcohol sales.
Long says for the past month, Northwest Georgia Bank has been eager to sell the foreclosed property and Sunday sales is the main hiccup.
The bank is fighting to have the land de-annexed from the city, put in the county where Sunday alcohol is on tap.
"What we would be missing out on is the permits, the business license, the gross receipts tax," says Long.
And Long just had another blow to his battle.
Local representative Tom Weldon and Senator Jeff Mullis support the de-annexation, with Weldon proposing legislation in the General Assembly.
They issued a letter on Wednesday saying de-annexation would only benefit the area.
It says in part, "Commercial land sales remain in historically low levels, and governmental limits on business operations negatively impact economic development and job creation. We are duty bound to promote the best interests of the citizens of Catoosa County, which includes the local economy."
"I got blind-sided with a ball bat," says Long.
Long says he was hoping the deal could be pushed off until November when the issue of Sunday sales in Fort Oglethorpe could be on the ballot.
He says he does not have sour grapes and knows business is business.
"Life's full of disappointments. My mother-in-law was disappointed when I married her daughter," he says with a laugh.
Long says he is pushing for Sunday alcohol sales to go on the ballot in November. He says city council will vote to include it at the March 25th meeting.
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