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County grows, just not as fast
Census still ranks Forsyth in top 10 nationwide
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County has slipped two spots yet remains one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, according to recent U.S. Census figures.

Based on July 2007 housing unit estimates, Forsyth is the seventh fastest growing in the U.S. It was one of three Georgia counties in the top 10 of the census rankings and one of 23 in the top 100.

But the ranking was two spots shy of last year's estimates, which pegged Forsyth fifth, and a reminder, local leaders say, that it becomes more difficult to stay on top as the population expands.

"It's a lot easier to be fast growing on a percentage basis when you've got 50,000 people, than when you've got 150,000 people," said Forsyth County Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse. "To even be considered in the top 10, that [is still] a very amazing feat."

In Georgia, only Paulding County at third and Henry at sixth ranked higher than Forsyth.

"Georgia is one of the best, and we're one of the best in Georgia," said James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Since April 2000, census figures show Forsyth has grown 64.7 percent, going from 36,505 to 60,140 housing units.

"Being in the top 10 is absolutely phenomenal," McCoy said.

"To be among those leading communities in the country that are experiencing significant growth and expansion, is good for business and it's good for the economy," he said.

"I just don't see anything happening in the near term that will make this a less attractive place to be."

The ranking comes despite the fact the county spent nearly the whole year under a moratorium on new residential rezoning applications.

The county commission approved the ban, which stretched from January to November 2007, to give the planning department time to conduct an infrastructure study to help manage growth.

The ban stopped the development of new residential properties, but Laughinghouse said it had "no affect on anything."

"The moratorium had no affect at all," he said. "If anything, it probably helped a lot of developers by keeping them out of trouble."

Forsyth has topped many lists over the years, including Forbes Magazine's top places to get ahead. The county ranked second on that list this year, and 13th on the magazine's list of the nation's wealthiest counties.

"When people look at us versus other counties in the metro Atlanta area, and other counties across the nation, we are still one of the best places in the country that people want to look at," Laughinghouse said. "It makes me proud to be here."