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Forsyth County adds fees to home-building process

Other action

Also during their work session Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners:

* Enacted a 30-day moratorium on the conversion of nonconforming billboards to “electronic message boards.” On Oct. 1, the county will consider whether to extend the ban 90 more days.

* Approved spending no more than $103,340 for the design work and construction documents on proposed improvements to Chattahoochee Pointe Park. The work likely will include, among other features, a 5K track.

* Awarded engineering and design services for the Old Atlanta Road and Melody Mizer Lane sidewalk project to Wolverton and Associates for $128,860.

* Accepted the 2015 Georgia Emergency Medical Services award worth $23,717*.

* Added an additional $10,000 to the 2015 budget for the Department of Family and Children Services*.

* Agreed to buy the fire department a new Pierce pumper truck for $615,000. The engine will go in the new Fire Station 6*.

* Approved the funding of the future purchase of 23 automated external defibrillators to be placed in the new jail and courthouse. The purchase will cost $35,800 and will be funded by the county’s general contingency fund*.


* The votes were 4-0, with Brian Tam absent


-- Kelly Whitmire

FORSYTH COUNTY — After being approved by the county commission last week, Forsyth will add five fees to the home-building process.

Tom Brown, the county’s planning director, said the new charges likely will reduce staff workload.

“Putting these in here will provide some kind of incentive to the applicants that are requesting these to only ask for them when they’re necessary,” Brown said. “[They will] make sure that applicants really value that information before dedicating the staff time and responding to it.”

Under the changes, it will cost $350 for determination of vesting, $75 for zoning verification letters and $50 plus the price of the document for certified copies. In addition, there will be a $100 charge for administrative authority of reduced parking and $350 for bonding.

Previously, only certified copies carried a fee, which was the cost of the document.

The charge for requesting letters is not a violation of the state’s open records laws, as it a service provided by the county before building.

“A zoning verification letter is a service, the letter itself is subject to the open records act,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “It’s the creation of the service itself that [Brown] is talking about.”

According to Brown, the county may need to eventually look into overhauling its fees.

“Quite a few them have not been touched in years and we may need to do a complete top-to-bottom re-examination,” he said.

Also during the meeting, the commission voted 5-0 to hold two public hearings on proposed changes to the county’s united development code related to the zoning process.

As with the fees, the code changes are aimed at streamlining the zoning process and saving staff time.