Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Lynn Long has made a last-ditch effort to keep a 42-acre piece of prime real estate in his city.
Northwest Georgia Bank wants to deannex the property on Battlefield Parkway east of Dietz Road and make it part of Catoosa County, because a developer who's eyeing the land wants any restaurants that build there to have the option of selling alcohol on Sunday.
The county allows such sales but Fort Oglethorpe doesn't.
The Fort Oglethorpe City Council balked at the bank's deannexation request, so now bank officials hope to get the General Assembly to approve the deannexation.
Long sent a Feb. 25 letter to state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, asking him to hold off on legislation to deannex any property from Fort Oglethorpe.
"Hopefully, I will have on the ballot in November the question of alcohol sales," Long wrote.
Contacted by phone, Long said he doesn't fault Northwest Georgia Bank.
"They have a property they foreclosed on, and they need to move it as fast as they can," he said.
The mayor said he doesn't like the idea of deannexations.
"It's setting a precedent that I think is bad," Long said.
Through an email through the Georgia Senate Press Office, Mullis was noncommittal about what might happen in Atlanta with the bank's deannexation request.
State lawmakers who represent Fort Oglethorpe are "carefully considering all sides of the issue," Mullis stated, and they will make a decision soon.
Bank Executive Vice President Kerry Riley didn't return a call Thursday.
In a previous interview, Riley said the bank will proceed with deannexation efforts in Atlanta because it can't count on Sunday sales being approved inside Fort Oglethorpe city limits -- even if the matter makes the ballot.
"We can't afford to take that chance," Riley said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.