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County floating water extension
Previous deal would cover 2012
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also during their work session Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners:

• Agreed that Lennar Georgia had vested rights to the smaller lot size once allowed in Res-3 zoning, based on rules at the time the rezoning was approved in 2005.

The developer sought the reserved sewer taps associated with that number of lots. The commission agreed on vested rights in a 3-2 vote, with Pete Amos and Brian Tam opposed.

That vote was attached to 5-0 approval of a project to eliminate the pump station in the neighboring Three Chimneys subdivision. Lennar agreed to buy the final easement needed to run the sewer line through a property it owns.

• Approved an agreement for the Board of Education to review that would allow 50 Lambert High School students to park at the Old Atlanta Recreation Center across Nichols Road.

The cost per parking spot likely will be $125 for the school year. The vote was 4-1, with Amos opposed.

The parks and recreation board will review the agreement at a called meeting tonight.

• Implemented a wellness program for employees. The optional program will offer a premium discount for those who participate and aims to reduce the health care claims and costs to the county in three to five years.

• Established a moratorium on the county’s definition of lot size for calculation purposes.

The historical interpretation granted years ago did not match the code, and a process has been set in motion to update the unified development code.

The measure was prompted by developers picking up partially developed subdivisions.

• Awarded the refunding of the 2004 series of general obligation bonds to Merchant Capital in a 4-1 vote with Tam opposed.

The refinancing of the $20 million bonds is expected to save the county about $1 million due to lower interest rates.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

Forsyth County commissioners have proposed extending the previous water agreement with the city of Cumming as a stop-gap measure.

The commission voted 4-0 on Tuesday, with Commissioner Pete Amos recused, to ask that the city temporarily extend the previous 25-year agreement until the end of the year or until the new contract is finalized.

The county and city agreed on the terms of a new deal in late May, days before the previous contract expired.

Since then, however, officials haven’t been able to agree on the wording of the document that would make it official.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said Tuesday that the county is in “legal no man’s land” when it comes to paying its water bills to the city.

The county sent a “streamlined” version of the intergovernmental agreement earlier this month and received a response from the city, which Jarrard said he believed “is not quite consistent with all of the terms we agreed upon.”

Now two months without a contract, he asked the commission to consider providing the staff with some direction on water purchases from the city.

Forsyth County buys untreated and treated water from Cumming, which has a Lake Lanier withdrawal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The county does not.

Jarrard said the only bill Forsyth has received from the city since the contract expired in May has honored the terms of that past agreement, but the county doesn’t have legal security in that.

“To the extent that we can’t get the full agreement worked out,” he said, “Perhaps we could do an interim agreement that would be retroactive.”

Commissioner Brian Tam suggested a request to extend the terms of the past agreement on a short-term basis.

To keep both governments working toward finalizing the new deal, the commission set a time limit on the interim.

The temporary extension would expire at the year’s end, or when a new agreement is reached.

An extension of the last contract was also proposed in February, as the commission began renegotiating the agreement.

Amos, who has since recused himself, said on Feb. 28 that city officials would like to negotiate the terms for water purchases in conjunction with discussions on the service delivery strategy, which determines how the governments divide up services, and the split for the 1-cent local option sales tax, or LOST.

Those issues have Oct. 31 and Dec. 31 deadlines, respectively, to reach agreement.

The commission declined to extend the contracts through the year at that time.

Jarrard said some of the issues to still be worked out in the new contract include the calculation for payments, when the increased cost for purchasing untreated water would apply and the requirement that joint requests must be made to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for permit allocation changes or increases.

He said the city, in its most recent response, also sent another proposed intergovernmental agreement that addresses service boundaries.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt was present at the meeting but did not speak.