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First maps of green space due in weeks
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Forsyth County News

The consulting firm Forsyth County hired to help it acquire green space could be presenting maps of potential properties in less than 45 days.

Chris Camp of Lose & Associates updated the commission Tuesday on the firm's progress in working with the county's geographic information services department mapping a set of criteria.

Lose & Associates used criteria determined by commissioners in a previous work session to help rank properties to be used as green space as part of a $100 million bond approved by voters in February.

"We looked at the goals the commission had prioritized," Camp said. "We took your original goals and said, 'What are the maps we would create using staff input?'"

The commission voted previously to prioritize potential land parcels based on several goals or criteria.

They included: Even distribution of green space; water quality protection; passive recreation opportunities; protection of wildlife; preservation of cultural and scenic resources; alternative transportation routes (or 'greenways'); economic benefit; and acquisition value.

Camp said the next step is for his firm and the GIS department to design individual maps depicting each goal, listing land parcels that cater to each.

"We're simply creating maps of individual goals at this point," Camp said. "We're determining which properties are usable with respect to each goal."

After commissioners receive the initial maps, they can then get more specific with respect to what they're looking for in size and location.

"You could say, 'We want to list every property that is less than 100 acres and divide them up by district,'" Camp said. "And the system will spit out a map. You can zone in on certain things like that."

GIS director John Kilgore said progress has been made and the initial maps could be ready in 30 days.

Interim County Manager Doug Derrer, however, directed staff "to be realistic about it," with a 45-60 day estimate more feasible.

"There are some things we need to work on with GIS," he said.

The time frame was not welcomed by Commissioner Linda Ledbetter.

"If you put this off two more months, you're talking almost next year," she said. "We've drug this thing out already."

Derrer countered that having just chosen Lose in July from among three other firms, "We've moved along pretty quickly."

Following the meeting, Ledbetter expressed concern that she would not be allowed to help choose green space since her term in the District 5 commission post expires Jan. 1. She did not seek re-election.

Ledbetter said "dragging this out" was a systematic process designed to keep her from being able to vote on any of the properties.

"Charlie [Laughinghouse] is just dragging this whole thing out till me and Dave [Richard] are out of office," she said.

Richard's term also expires Jan. 1. He was defeated in the July 15 Republican primary by Patrick Bell, who will face Democrat Jon Flack in the Nov. 4 General Election.

Neither Laughinghouse nor Richard could be reached for comment Wednesday.

On July 24, commissioners hired Lose to help the county rank property, negotiate with property owners, write grants and coordinate with the county's GIS department for a fee not to exceed $100,000.