Forsyth County is considering putting up a gate to deal with illegal activity on Sawnee Mountain.
Forsyth County Commissioners discussed putting a gate at the bottom of Tower Road at a recent work session to deal with illegal activity happening around the Barker House, a county-owned house on Sawnee Mountain known for its rounded “spaceship” design and recently approved for demolition.
Chuck Gober, who recently moved to the area, said the area can be a big problem on the weekends.
“It turns into party central until 4 or 5 in the morning,” Gober said. “The police were up there three times Sunday running up there, going 40-50 miles-per-hour just to get to the top. There’s so much riff raff going on it’s unbelievable.”
Gober told commissioners he has had to deal with parties, drunk drivers sleeping in cars and other illegal activity.
“On a Saturday afternoon, [there were] naked photo shoots [visible from] my back deck, off my side decks,” he said. “It’s really just unbelievable.”
“What abandonment means is it is no longer a public way, which means we can put a gate on it, but it will continue to be county property so we can provide as much or as little access.”County Attorney Ken Jarrard
Closing the road would require the county to abandon the road, which means the county would still own it but it would be closed to outside traffic. Residents, businesses owning towers on Sawnee Mountain and public safety officials would have gate access.
“Abandonment simply means we are abandoning it as part of the county roadway system; it does not mean it is not county property,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “What abandonment means is it is no longer a public way, which means we can put a gate on it, but it will continue to be county property so we can provide as much or as little access.”
Gober said neighbors and property owners are in favor of adding the gate and is willing to raise funds. There will also be a meeting with public safety officials to discuss the illegal activity and possible gate.
In March, commissioners voted to move ahead with demolition of the Barker House after giving the family of late-architect Jim Barker six months to find an alternative. The county has discussed some type of memorial to the house at the site.
The county purchased the house and the property surrounding it for $1.8 million in 2003, though no suitable use for the property was found and the unique structure would have been a challenge to meet American Disability Act standards.
In recent years, the property has been plagued with vandalism and break-ins.
“That’s part of the issue,” Chairman Todd Levent said. “If that was gone, a lot of this might go away.”
No date for demolition was given at the meeting.
The gate will next be discussed at the commission’s May 23 work session.