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Changes to mega-development require hearing
Countys payments would be split up
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Forsyth County News

 Other action

Also during their meeting Thursday meeting, the Forsyth County commission:

• Granted a rezoning from agricultural to Residential-6 for Brookwood Properties and open space and setback variances. The 10.5-acre site on Mathis Airport Parkway will have 23 single-family homes.

• Approved a contract with Leadership Forsyth for an educational trail project at Caney Creek Preserve.

Jack Gleason, founder of Friends of Caney Creek, expressed concern about the lack of outreach during the planning phase for additions to a green space property in an environmentally sensitive area.

• Ratified the contract with Industrial Facilities Solutions to raze downtown Cumming buildings to make way for the new courthouse and jail.

The $385,000 project is funded through the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. Demolition is expected to begin this week and be completed within 45 days.

• Honored two employees for 25 years of service with Forsyth County government. William White and Wendy Frazier are both with the parks and recreation department.

 

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

 

Alyssa LaRenzie

An agreement to split up right-of-way payments to a developer of a large mixed-use project will require a public hearing before the Forsyth County commission can ratify the measure.

Taubman Centers penned a deal with the county in 2008 for the mall, office space, hotels and residential units on 164 acres on the southern section of Ronald Regan Boulevard.

The amendments made in October 2011 delayed the latest opening date of the regional mall from 2015 to 2020, as well as pushed back the county's deadline to reimburse Taubman for right-of-way costs for the road.

Taubman sought to make the changes due to economic conditions and the recent sale of a parcel of land for apartments.

The right-of-way payments of about $2.5 million would be divided, with the first half before Feb. 15 and the other by December 2015 if the commission ratified the agreement before the first deadline, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard during a meeting Thursday.

“However, your act of ratifying that … does trigger a clause in the [state] statute that says if you fund the acquisition of property over multi years you’re supposed to have a public hearing before you do that,” Jarrard said.

The commission will hold that hearing at its Feb. 7 meeting, when it likely will ratify the deal.

Jarrard explained at that Jan. 8 session that Taubman agreed to push back half the amount due if ratified by commissioners “because we have enough of a membership that has terms until 2016.”

The delay in payment allows the county to “enjoy our cash in our bank account,” Jarrard said.

For each incentive, Taubman issues a letter of credit, stating it will reimburse the county for those costs if the promised development is not built according to the contract, he said.

Also at the meeting, commissioners heard an update on the project from James McCoy, president of the local chamber of commerce.

“[A vice president and site development team] did a drive around and spent a couple of days in the community [in late 2012],” he said. “My understanding … was that they’re cautiously optimistic about the retail market in the next 12 to 18 months.”