Issues between Forsyth County and the city of Cumming over an annexation along Marketplace Boulevard and Turner Road may be heading toward a compromise.
At a special called meeting on Friday morning, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted to extend the deadline for an arbitration period for one month for the proposed annexation of about 150 acres on Market Place Boulevard and Turner Road. The Cumming City Council held a similar meeting the evening before.
“Our goal, truly, is that which is best for the community as a whole,” said Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper. “Our goal is not to fight, is not to argue, it’s what’s best for the community as a whole. So, sitting down and working with the city, and hopefully coming up with some compromise that is absolutely optimal, that’s our goal.”
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said that after commissioners voted to object to the request in August, a panel made up of two county officials, two city officials and a tie-breaking “academic” was assembled and given until Sunday, Oct. 27 to make a decision. Their next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The change came after discussion between county and city officials and the property owner. The decision will give the municipalities an extra month, until Nov. 20, to work on a compromise before a decision is made.
“The discussion did turn to a possible compromise, and I would say that the annexation statute anticipates that the parties have a good-faith obligation to engage in discussions up to and through the actual annexation process,” Jarrard said.
Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow said on Friday that the city approved the request to give the developer and county more time to hash out a plan.
“We got word that the county and developer were trying to work things out because the city is not really trying to fight the annexation arbitration, it’s up to the developer and the county,” he said. “They’re trying to work things out and wanted some additional time to try to work that out.”
If annexed, the property would be planned urban development, or PUD, district to the west of Market Place and highway business, HB, district to the east.
When properties are annexed into the city, they must hold a similar zoning to the one the property had in the county for at least a year.
Commissioners previously objected to the annexation because the city’s planned urban development zoning allows more density – 10 units per acre instead of six – than the county’s master planned district, MPD, zoning, the HB zoning does not match the county’s zoning for the area and concerns with issues of collecting impact fees and infrastructure concerns.
The annexation request, known as the Westshore development, has plans for a mixed-use development with 322,000 square feet of commercial space, 348 rental units, 20 single-family units and 130 townhomes.
The request was ultimately withdrawn amid several issues, including that certain lots of the proposal had only requested the portion west of Market Place to be annexed, meaning the original request was only for 57 acres instead of the entire 151. A portion of the proposed development is still in the city.
The current annexation request includes the total areas of all the parcels.