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Commissioners won’t install gate near north Forsyth's Barker House
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. - photo by Micah Green

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will take no action regarding a proposed gate near the Barker House, which was recently requested by residents who have complained about illicit activity near their homes and at the county-owned house.

At a work session Tuesday, the BOC decided they will not pay to install a gate, based on input from Capt. Mark Hoffman with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Division Chief Barry Head with the Forsyth County Fire Department and John Cunard, director of the county’s engineering department.

During their work session on Tuesday, May 23, The Board of Commissioners also:

  • Approved county participation in a 3D elevation mapping program that includes the acquisition of optical remote sensing technology with a county contribution of $8,030 and a 5 percent administration fee
  • Voted to change language in Addendum 1 from the Georgia Department of Transportation fiscal year 2016-17 funding agreement, making it more colloquial
  • Accepted a state grant of $12,754 to go toward tablets for the county’s adult drug court and $1,485 to the juvenile drug court with no county match required
  • OK’d a FEMA grant of $340,425 to obtain three generators to ensure residents continue to get water in case of emergency. The county will match up to $60,075.

“After reviewing the video, they made a unanimous recommendation to the board not to install a gate on Barker Road, or Tower Road, due to various issues, including the need for a turnaround at the gate, access issues for several other property owners and their visitors and other reasons,” said Tim Merritt, interim county manager. “It is the expectation of this group that the sheriff’s office is responsive and will continue to respond to service calls at this location to deal with any criminal issues involved.”

The Barker House, located on county-owned property atop Sawnee Mountain known for its rounded “spaceship” design, was recently approved for demolition, though that has not deterred party-goers, Chuck Gober, a Forsyth County resident, previously said.

“It turns into party central until 4 or 5 in the morning,” he 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.”

He also 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.

Merritt said since Gober and other residents’ remarks, the sheriff’s office has reviewed incident reports from the location, which also factored into the decision to recommend denial.

“Capt. Hoffman did review the reports of incidents up there,” he said. “[Of] about 60 different events that were logged in their book, what I remember is about two-thirds of those were simply routine patrols that were up in that area and about one-third of those were response to complaints.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners estimated demolition of the Barker House would begin in about 60 days, with an additional 30 to completely tear it down.

Commission Chairman Todd Levent said Tuesday should illegal activity greatly increase between now and demolition, the board could review their decision, though, for now, “it’s as simple as we don’t take action.”