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Forsyth County crafting response to subsidized housing development
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Forsyth County News

EAST FORSYTH — Forsyth County will issue a response to the state Department of Community Affairs on a proposed subsidized housing development along Buford Highway, east of Cumming.

During its work session Tuesday, the Forsyth County commission directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to craft the response.

The developer is reportedly pursuing state and federal tax credits to build the apartment complex.

Indications are the tone will echo that of many of the speakers at a recent public hearing. While the county may have a need for affordable housing, they felt the proposed location — off Hwy. 20 near the entrance to The Gates of Forsyth subdivision, as well as an Ingles and CVS pharmacy — would not be the right fit.

“I’ve counted. I got 11 emails from people opposed to it,” said Commissioner Jim Boff, whose District 5 includes the site. “I don’t have an official count for the ratios of the meeting the other night, but I do remember there were at least 30 people who stood up in support when Steve Kirby [of the Gates] spoke [Aug. 6].

“They were opposed to that particular site, which is what the DCA letter is about. They didn’t ask us to give our general opinion on low income.”

Boff added that even those who spoke in support of public housing did not necessarily support the location.

“The people who thought we do need some low-income housing in this county, to my memory, none of them said it ought to be at that site,” Boff said.

“That site is not on any kind of public transportation line, nor is there any plan that I know of [to add one]. There is no reason to believe that there would be jobs that would be available if people moved there.”

Though the state has asked for the county’s input on the development, it’s not required to use it when determining the future of the project.

Officials have previously explained that, unlike a rezoning, the county had little power over the development as it had been zoned for apartments in 1986.

The site had previously been discussed for a possible car dealership, but the deal fell through after community opposition.

“The low-income is something that overrides all county processes,” Boff said Tuesday. “To my knowledge, there is nothing we can do to necessarily stop it, and it could occur anywhere at any time in anybody’s district as long as somebody applies for it and does have credits.”

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said that she felt there was a need for low-income housing in the county.

“I believe there is some ways we can approach, in given areas, affordable housing, where we can have nice amenities with it,” she said.