Eight days after a contentious town hall meeting between Forsyth County officials and neighbors living near a proposed wastewater facility, there was a much different response on Thursday as attendees broke out in applause as Forsyth County Commissioners voted to back off the current plans for now.
At the Forsyth County Commissioners’ final meeting of the year, commissioners unanimously approved terminating a contract worth $3 million with Andrew and Lisa Tallant for 99.9 acres at the end of Millwood Road that was planned for a proposed wastewater plant.
Chairman Todd Levent said the site is still in consideration but wanted to let county staff look at other options. He said discussions about the plant had been influenced by “scare tactics” and “things that just aren’t true.”
“There’s a lot of things that can be considered: another location, shifting it to one area that is away from [neighbors], put a park between the two of you guys,” Levent said. “There are lots of things that could be considered, but please don’t let people feed you stuff that’s just not true, that scares you guys.”
Levent said public input and a citizens committee would be a part of future decisions.
The motion was considerably different than the agenda item, which was to extend a due diligence period on the property by 120 days after the Jan. 7 closing date.
Previously, county officials said the facility would sit on about 25 acres of the nearly 100-acre tract, and construction is expected to start in 2020. Officials said funds for the plant will come from fees from water department customers and not taxpayers.
Treated water will be returned to Chestatee Bay.
The Millwood Road site was chosen by an engineering firm hired by the county, which decided it was the best of 82 sites originally considered, which was whittled to six sites, with two being preferred due to parcel shape, nearby development, terrain, access and other issues.
Tim Perkins, director of the county’s water and sewer department, said at last week’s meeting the county had been told since 2002 that the water needs to be returned to the lake rather than building new septic tanks, which he said are considered a “consumptive use.”
Perkins said consumptive uses are a factor in the “water wars” between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
During last week’s meeting, several neighbors spoke out against the proposed facility, citing concerns with health, smell and being close to the planned East Forsyth High School.
Neighbors also said they were not informed by the county about the plans until after the purchase was approved and they had no say in the process. Neighbors said they only found out after a resident saw surveyors in their backyard.
Several of the evening’s speakers also wanted to see the facility in other large, industrial uses including a rendering plant and the Eagle Point Landfill, and many wanted to see the county extend the closing of the contract to allow time to address community concerns.