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Subdivision seeks to slow down speeding

POSTED: October 28, 2013 12:30 a.m.
Alyssa LaRenzie/

Concerned about speeding and other safety issues in the Deerwood subdivision, Julie Helseth has organized a community meeting next month with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Neighborhood Watch Program. Helseth is also working with her fellow residents on possibly getting speed humps installed in some of the problem areas of the neighborhood off Pilgrim Mill Road east of Cumming. The sheriff’s office receives complaints almost daily about speeding through subdivisions.

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A driver that nearly hit a young man walking a dog was the last straw for one Deerwood resident.

Julie Helseth hopes something can be done to stop the reckless driving in her subdivision before someone gets hurt. She has hung fliers on the mailboxes in the neighborhood of more than 200 homes, announcing the first “Deerwood Community Safety Meeting.”

Homeowners in the older subdivision off of Pilgrim Mill Road, east of Cumming and near Lake Lanier, met recently at the dilapidated community tennis court to discuss strategies for stopping the speeders and other safety issues in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood formed a safety association, which will have its first meeting with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Neighborhood Watch Program at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the north precinct.

Helseth is also working with residents on a preventative measure, getting speed humps installed in problem areas of the subdivision. Both strategies will take some time to accomplish, she said, but the need is there.

In the case of the Sept. 23 incident with the dog walker in Deerwood, Helseth said the young man almost hit yelled at the driver to slow down. Instead, that person put the car in reverse and shouted back.

Concerns of neighborhood speed demons aren’t limited to the roads in Deerwood.

Forsyth County receives about five or six requests each year from subdivisions hoping to have speed humps put in, said Tim Allen, assistant director of engineering for Forsyth County.

In 1996, the county instituted a policy for installing neighborhood speed humps based on the volume of requests, Allen said.

Either an organized homeowner group or 70 percent of affected property owners can request a traffic study, the policy states.

The study must find that more than 15 percent of vehicles travel at least 11 mph above the posted speed limit, which must be 30 mph or less, Allen said.

In cases of organized groups, the 70-percent approval is required after a study determines a need, he said.

Then, in either route, the county commission must approve the speed humps, a vote that’s not yet been denied — possibly due to the strict criteria of the policy.

“Typically, when we go out and do a study,” Allen said, “what we find is nine times out of 10, it doesn’t meet the speed hump warrants.”

For the most part, he said speeds are clocked at just a few miles per hour above the posted limit, but there’s occasionally a 40 or 50 mph reading that’s off the charts.

When that’s the case, he said, it’s usually just “a few rotten apples” causing the speeding concerns in the neighborhood.

That’s a good scenario for calling the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Duane Piper said the office continually patrols subdivisions, but deputies concentrate enforcement when residents call in complaints to their precinct, north or south.

“We get them daily,” Piper said of the calls. “We put usually the traffic unit on those specific types of traffic complaints.”

He added that the neighborhood watch program provides residents with a direct link to an officer who will respond.

The office also puts out “smart trailers” to post speeds of passing cars where speed problems exist or residents request them, Piper said.

One can keep a record of the speeds it records and provide an average so the office can evaluate the sincerity of the problem.

In a subdivision, the dangerous consequences of speeding are prevalent.

“Neighborhoods are where you have kids running around, small children, who are obviously not as aware of traffic passing by and to look both ways,” Piper said. “It makes it a little bit scarier in subdivisions.”

 

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