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29 security cameras coming to Forsyth County parks
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A new safety measure for parks, a request for state lawmakers and the next steps for issues between residents at the Lakes at Franklin Goldmine were among items discussed at Forsyth County Board of Commissioners' work session on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

All items were approved by a 5-0 vote unless otherwise noted.


Safety measures

County officials discussed details for a pair of public safety measures: a $77,000 request to have the Forsyth County Sherriff’s Office provide fulltime security at the county administration building and to place security cameras at certain parks. The items are both part of the 2020 general fund budget.

The first request would be the first time the county had a deputy on-premises at all times and the cost is roughly equal to a year’s salary.

Maj. Tom Patton said FCSO and other law enforcement officials studied the building and surrounding area over the summer and “concluded that having a deputy assigned to this property, broadly defined, was in the best interest of employees in the building, elected officials who come and go and frankly our citizens.”

“This came on the heels of a couple of small incidents where people who didn’t necessarily need to be here were in fact here,” Patton said. “We have a lot of people close by and they were able to respond, but the intent was to have someone whose full-time job is to keep an eye on these facilities.”

Patton said there were no plans for the deputy to replace the code enforcement employee already present at the building, though county officials discussed having an electronic kiosk that would free that employee up to working the field.

For the cameras, Patton said they would be placed at a number of parks but would not be monitored in real-time.

“They are capturing images of vehicles, and they are very narrowly focused on entrances to parks and not on trails or pedestrian areas, not on the ball fields, not in the dugouts or anything, and they are reading tags,” Patton said.

Data gathered from the 29 cameras will be stored for at least 30 days.

“This is expressly for the purpose of locating vehicles that have been associated with a legitimate interest of the sheriff’s office,” Patton said.

The maintenance and software licenses for the camera is $58,000.


The Lakes at Franklin Goldmine

In October, a meeting between residents living at The Lakes at Franklin Goldmine and officials with homebuilder Paran Homes and developer American Homes 4 Rent, which is developing the third phase of the neighborhood as for-rent properties, grew heated with neighbors citing issues with amenities, the planned rentals, the status of some yet-to-be-built lots and other lingering issues.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners voted to begin a county-initiated process to deal with those concerns.

District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper, who represents the area and moderated the previous meeting, said neighbors want a separation from the third phase, while developers want to build the units under conditions that were in place for the first two phases.

The approval at the meeting kicked off the process, which will include public hearings.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard and county staff said they would bring back a proposal to commissioners.


Opposing preemption

Forsyth County has been at the forefront of a push by lawmakers to limit local control for zoning decisions, and commissioners are pushing back.

At the meeting, commissioners further discussed the ongoing proposal and voted to have Jarrard come back with a legal opinion.

“This is, since I’ve been doing this, the most significant effort from the General Assembly to sort of reach down and begin to really get involved in local designs,” Jarrard said.

Jarrard said he questioned whether the matter was allowed under the state constitution and whether it could lead to the state government getting involved in other areas.

At a meeting the week before, commissioners asked lawmakers elected by Forsyth County voters to oppose measures that would be “preempting a local government’s ability to enact local design standards,” which Jarrard said the county had an “emphatic opposition” to such bills.

The issue came up last year as lawmakers debated House Bill 302, which was introduced by District 133 state Rep. Vance Smith, of Pine Mountain, and, according to the bill’s summary, would “prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to or regulating building design elements as applied to one- or two-family dwellings.”

Commissioners adopted a similar request in February when the topic was being discussed.