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Five-planning board proposal met with skepticism in Forsyth County

FORSYTH COUNTY — Residents weighed in during a public hearing Thursday night on proposed changes to Forsyth County’s planning board, with no consensus in sight.

In December, the county commission discussed the possibility of dissolving the current five-member panel and replacing it with five — one for each of the Forsyth’s districts.

The idea came in the wake of District 2 (southeast Forsyth) getting its own subarea planning board, which will complement the countywide group.

Dissolution of the board, however, would require help from the local state legislative delegation, as the current planning board concept was created through Georgia’s government.

If the delegation agreed, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the planning board.

“There was a specific request to the delegation that [it] drop legislation to repeal that local legislation that created the Forsyth County planning [board] to become effective no earlier than July 1, 2016,” Jarrard said.

“Doing that does not mean there will not be a planning [board], it simply means it will not be a planning [board] created by state law.”

The resolution would also give commissioners the ability to add a requirement to new large zonings that would limit the number of building permits per year.

Unlike the majority of public hearings before the board, most speakers Thursday night did not come down one side of the issue or the other. Instead, they seemed to be in favor of — or opposed to — certain parts.

Resident Anita Wilson said she was generally supportive of the changes for staggering permits, but wasn’t for expanding the board.

“I don’t feel comfortable with adding to the planning [board] in a significant amount,” Wilson said. “I feel that it’s growing government, it increases cost and, quite honestly, it can become a logistical problem for the citizens. There are several people already confused with the planning process.”

Greg Dolezal, a former planning board member, said he also supported portions of the resolution, but didn’t feel it did enough to combat the county’s real issues.

“I come to voice a concern that that there is a significant detachment from the problem we are trying to solve and the resolution that we’ve put forward” he said. “I would encourage this [commission] to implement things into this resolution that deal with the problems that we’re facing … debt, traffic and overcrowded schools.”

Other changes would allow planning boards to ask to hold extra public hearings, allow the beautification of Ga. 400 on- and off-ramps and let local communities, such as Matt in northwest Forsyth, put up signs designating the community.

After the hearing, the commission voted 5-0 to revisit the matter at its next work session.