Two new fire stations, a new zoning process for some event spaces and the possible county takeover of a state road were among items at a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners work session on Tuesday.
All items were approved 5-0 unless otherwise noted.
In recent months, safety issues along Post Road have been a big topic for neighbors living in the area and commissioners, with calls from the community to widen the road to cut down on congestion and drivers making risky turns to get onto the roadway.
One proposal to deal community concerns is moving the road from being under the state’s purview to the county’s.
County leaders said they recently received a letter from officials with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which County Attorney Ken Jarrard said effectively suggested that Post Road was going to be removed from the state highway inventory.
That proposal could leave the county paying for planned improvements to the road.
Jason McCook, with engineering firm Moreland Altobelli, said he had looked at the letter and believed the state was “putting [the county] on the hook for the $110 million” for improvements.
“I think the board should very reasonably ask for some clarification on this,” Jarrard said. “That is a very carefully worded letter, and I think we ought to ask, ‘Do you think there will be no GDOT maintenance on this roadway? Do you mean there will be no capital improvement funding on this roadway? I need to understand what you mean by this.’”
Jarrard said that implies the county would take over the road, and Chairwoman Laura Semanson said the change would also mean Bethelview Road would go from a county road to the state.
Semanson said it was her understanding that Bethelview had never been on the state list but Post had been previously.
Forsyth County Engineering Director John Cunard said that Post Road moved from a county road to the state in the early ‘90s, before he was with the county, but was switched back soon after due to complaints from the community.
New fire stations
Commissioners took a first step toward replacing two aging fire stations.
Commissioners voted to approve a request for architectural/engineering services for Fire Stations 9 and 15 to Croft and Associates for $463,500. The funds will come from SPLOST and impact fees.
The current Station 9 is located at 7385 Browns Bridge Road, and the current Station 15 is at 1525 Buford Highway.
Forsyth County Fire Chief Barry Head said Station 9 could be used for other purposes.
“The building is good, we’ve just outgrown it,” he said. “And we just redid the entire septic system out there, so it can be used for something else.”
Head said the first of the two stations could be done in about three years.
“It’ll be 2022 for Station 9,” Head said. “For 15, we’re still trying to acquire the land.”
Commissioners floated the idea of using the space as a community meeting room or polling place for elections.
A new zoning process may allow new types of businesses.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Mills said that during a discussion about an event space for weddings, a proposal for a new conditional-use permit came up that would allow lodging and other uses.
“In my mind, there should probably be an ancillary use to a private event center that might use a conditional-use permit for lodging, that way you can narrowly tailor it to fit the property in the area if it is something the board so considers,” said Christopher Light, a zoning attorney representing the property owner.
Such a permit would only be allowed in areas zoned for agriculture.
Commissioners said allowing certain commercial uses on agricultural properties would possibly help preserve large undeveloped tracts of land.
“I love the idea of creating a commercial limited-use and not having another subdivision come in with people being able to pay the taxes,” District 4 Commissioner Cindy Mills said.
One issue with lodging is it falls somewhere between a traditional hotel and a short-term rental, which has been a big issue for the county in recent years.
The county’s planning and community development department will bring back a recommendation at a future meeting.