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Commissioners move ahead with removing house near former Habersham plant

Forsyth County Commissioners are taking action to remove a derelict structure near the site of a former wastewater facility near Lake Lanier.

At a work session Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with the county’s nuisance abatement process and to acquire a title opinion for an uninhibited house at 910 Wood Valley Court, near the site of the former Habersham Wastewater Facility.

At a recent Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting:

• Awarded a bid worth of $832,047 to Springturf, LLC for the installation of two artificial turf fields at Fowler Park. 

• Approved a change requested by Forsyth County Superior Court judges to abolish the associate juvenile court judge position and replace it with a full-time juvenile court judge position. The change included transferring $18,269 from the general fund contingency to meet the new salary.

• Executed Georgia Department of Transportation support forms for three proposed roundabouts on Hwy. 9. The three will be built at Hwy. 9’s intersections with Hopewell, Bannister and A.C. Smith roads.

• OK’d approval of work authorization not to exceed $299,968 for construction engineering and inspection of the Pilgrim Mill Road widening project to Moreland Altobelli and Associates, Inc. 

• Moved ahead with public hearings for possible changes to the county’s unified development code and sign code for certain commercial properties along Ga. 400 to replace signs legal but not conforming to the current code with new moment signs and enhanced landscaping.

Aaron Meyer, a member of County Attorney Ken Jarrard’s office, said District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, who represents the area, had requested the county look at the building in a previous meeting due to safety concerns. 

“Based on the investigation and based on [Code Enforcement Supervisor Steve] Zaring’s report, the conclusions were that the structure is unfit for human habitation or for commercial, industrial and business use,” Meyer said. “This structure is beginning to show signs of dilapidation. It’s in disrepair.”

Reached on Wednesday, Semanson said the house was uninhabited and open to the elements. She said the property owner had been notified.

In recent years, commissioners approved a nuisance abatement ordinance to deal with unsafe or abandoned structures. Since then, the ordinance has been used to take down houses in the infamous Greenleaf subdivision, an unfinished subdivision once at the center of a mortgage fraud scheme.

Semanson said a structure near the intersection of Old Atlanta and McGinnis Ferry roads was recently taken down through the ordinance. 

The nearby wastewater facility was a hot topic in 2017 after the Cumming City Council first voted in April to condemn the plant and surrounding properties, with the aim of replacing the aging facility with a new one before abandoning those plans in November. 

Plant customers were also charged $6,250 to connect to city sewer. 

Previously, the plant served about 400 homes in five neighborhoods along Buford Dam Road. 

The system dates to the 1970s, when it was more common for large neighborhoods to build their own due to a lack of infrastructure.

Though a city concern, Semanson held a meeting last summer to hear from constituents in the district about their issues with the plant and surrounding issues.