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Commissioners ban smoking at county parks, talk yield signs, approve project bids
FCN Yield Signs 2 011119
Cars turn right off Post Road into Vickery Village on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2019, while passing a yield sign. Yield signs in certain locations around the county have become the source of some confusion and concern among residents and county commissioners. - photo by Ben Hendren

A potential new hotel at Halcyon Forsyth, bringing down controversial yield signs and construction of a new fire station were among items discussed by Forsyth County Commissioners this week.

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

Snuffing out smokers

Forsyth County parks are about to get a little healthier as commissioners voted to move ahead with plans to prohibit smoking and vaping at all county parks.

District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent brought up the proposal and said most active parks — facilities with gyms and ball fields — only allow smoking in designated areas and passive parks — such as trail systems and the Big Creek Greenway — prohibit smoking entirely, in part due to issues with responding to any potential fires caused by smoking.

Levent said while those rules have been in place for some time, as vaping has become more popular, it has popped up all over parks.

“I just personally would love to see our athletic parks that are used for family environments be non-smoking and non-vaping,” Levent said.

 The prohibition did not extend to other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco. During the discussion, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said a rule to ban all tobacco from parks when she was a member of the parks and recreation board failed for that reason.

“The tobacco is what wound up killing it,” Mills said.

Levent said smokeless tobacco was less of an issue as it didn’t impact others. 

Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said the proposal had been discussed by the current parks board, and members decided not to take action.

“They went back to the booster clubs, and the booster clubs said they would lose the majority of their coaches if they weren’t allowed to smoke or use tobacco,

Pryor said enforcement was also an issue raised by the park board.

Public hearings will be held before the change is approved.

Halcyon hotel

The Halcyon Forsyth mixed-use development is planned to open this summer and among the stores, restaurants and amenities, an Embassy Suites hotel has long been a part of the plan. Now, it appears another Hilton hotel could be coming to the development.

“We think a second all-suites project would do well there according to all over our feasibility studies and corporate demand and demand from the county,” said Jay Darji, managing principal of hotel development firm The Heritage Hospitality Group Fund.

Commissioners voted to authorize staff to draft a zoning condition amendment as approved conditions only allowed one suites-based hotel on the property. The hotel will be “Intercontinental, Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt or Hilton-type products” with a large meeting space. 

Big bids

Commissioners approved bids for several county projects during the meeting, including two costing more than $1 million.

A bid worth $1,485,637.23 was approved for Vertical Earth for the construction of a roundabout on Shiloh Road at Shiloh Crossing. The project will be paid for with SPLOST VII funds.

When asked by District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown if the roundabout would deal with large truck traffic on the roadway, Engineering Director John Cunard said it would.

 “It’s designed to accommodate truck traffic,” he said. “It’s 140 feet in diameter, a big roundabout.”

A bid worth $4.2 million was approved for Cooper and Company General Contractors for the construction of Fire Station 11 on Pittman Road. 

Fire Chief Barry Head said during the meeting the new station would open in about a year. 

Yield signs

Commissioners also heard an update on the removal of certain yield signs across the county from Todd Long, with Moreland Altobelli Associates.

After complaints from neighbors, Forsyth County Commissioners have had a renewed interest on the signs as of late, particularly in certain areas where drivers make a right turn to yield to those turning left, and discussions have been part of numerous recent meetings.

Long used the Drew Campground-Kelly Mill Road corridor as an example saying that of the 40 right turns along the road, 11 yield signs were removed, 18 turns were correct and 11 required signs but will need mitigation.

The county’s new rules follow GDOT driving manuals, such as drivers on the left yielding to those on the right, when making a left turn to an intersection, alley or driveway right-of-way is yielded to traffic in the opposite direction and right-of-way should be yielded to all vehicles, including bikes, “which are approaching from the opposite direction,” and pedestrians.

Next steps for the project include county approval of yield sign usage standards, completing an inventory of the signs, completing mitigation details and submitting a final report package this summer. 

No action was taken at the meeting.