North Forsyth residents had a chance Wednesday to check out updates to the county’s 20-year land use plan and talk to their commissioner, and many took the opportunity.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, members of the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee and county staff hosted a meeting to discuss updates to the county’s comprehensive plan, or Foster Forsyth, at the Coal Mountain community building to review and give input on the plan.
“[It was a] huge turnout,” Mills said. “When the meeting first started there had to be 125-150 people that we here coming in and leaving immediately. They are protective of their property rights whether they own a quarter of an acre or they own 40 acres. They don’t like other people, including commissioners, saying what should happen in the 20-year plan.”
Since April 2016, consultants have held 14 meetings with residents and stakeholders, with nearly 1,000 coming to events and more than 4,800 responding to a community survey, but Mills said many at the meeting were unaware of the plan.
“I think probably what we’ve learned is a lot of people didn’t know the comp plan was going on,” Mills said. “It was a mixed crowd; some people did — some people went to a lot of meetings. Most — and I didn’t do an official poll — most did not.”
Anna Kinley said she attended the meeting as she plans to move to a new neighborhood in north Forsyth, that Wednesday’s meeting was the first she had attended and that she was happy to be able to speak with county staff.
“It’s really nice they make the time to do that. It seems like they really care about the opinions,” she said.
Mills said input varied from person to person.
“It’s all relative to what they own,” she said. “I had one person who owned a large tract of property, and his concern was that he has no interest in ever selling but he wants other people when they start building beside him to know he has chicken farms.
“There was one large group that was just here to talk about their subdivision.”
Particularly at the beginning of the meeting, Mills said, there were several attendees who tried to focus on other issues not related to the plan update.
“It did tell me that I need to do more town hall meetings because I try to make myself so available,” she said, “but it’s worth the extra effort to reach out and do a lot of listening and hear what their needs and concerns are.”