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Forsyth County commissioners approved land for a new mining project
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Annexation of county land to the city of Cumming, opposition to legislative changes and approving land for a new mining project were among items discussed at a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners work session this week.

All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

Annexation

Three properties in the county will soon be part of the city of Cumming after commissioners said they had no objections to their annexations.

Commissioners approved annexations on 0.9 acres at 805 Dahlonega Hwy., 3.1 acres at 930 Sanders Road and 1.6 acres at 1415 Pilgrim Mill Road.

There is a residence on the Sanders Road property, though the land is zoned for office use and planned for a senior living facility.

“It is by Moss Walker Properties seeking to use the property for senior housing assisted living,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “As proposed to the city, it will be a two-story building only.”

Jarrard said there would be about 80 units on the three acres, which does not meet county standards.

Mine rezoning

Though commissioners expect it to be a long process, they got the ball rolling on a county-initiated rezoning of 233.7 acres in north Forsyth to be used for a mine.

At a recent meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a compromise and agreement with Georgia Stone Products related to the legal nonconforming status – a zoning that was legal at the time of approval but is not allowed under current standards – of a sand mine on Keith Bridge Road, which will also include the 233.7 acres owned by the Mashburn Marital Trust.

Under the agreement, the county will affirm Georgia Stone Products’s right to use the mine and the company will close on the Mashburn land.

“This has been a lot of delicate dancing to get where we are right now,” said Chairwoman Laura Semanson.

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she had met with neighboring homeowners and the county had sent more than 150 letters to residents in the area.

Jarrard said at the previous meeting the Mashburn property had previously been zoned for “just about a thousand residential units” or apartments.

In 2012, commissioners settled issues with both parties related to a 2010 zoning decision. Suits were filed after commissioners approved rezoning 115 acres at the mine for a planned eco-industrial park on Leland Drive.

The rezoning of the residential land was a condition of settlement.

Of the current commissioners, only Todd Levent, who represents District 3, was on the board in 2012 and none were on the board in 2010.

Bill opposition

Commissioners officially voiced their concerns with a pair of bills working their way through the Georgia General Assembly: House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172. Both bills are aimed a regulating building designs elements.

“This resolution is aspirational in content,” Jarrard said. “It is nothing that the county can force on the general assembly but it is an expression of a communication by the board of commissioners of your avowed opposition to HB 302 and SB 172, which attempts to take away the ability of local governments using their police power and their land-use power to implement residential design standards.”

Jarrard said the bills could ban overlays, required paint colors and other items that have “been part of the development vernacular for years.”

“I can’t think of anything worse than taking away the citizen’s right to have a voice,” Mills said. “You think about all the meetings that our citizens have went to with our land-use map and have went to with all the meetings we’ve had with our overlays and to say that all the things that you’ve done now don’t matter and that you don’t have the right to have that voice, I just think it’s absolutely atrocious.”