Like much of the county, Forsyth County Commissioners had planned to have some time off for the final week of the year.
That changed with the addition of a special-called meeting on Thursday, where the board discussed an agreement for the widening of McGinnis Ferry Road, the specifics of ending a contract for land originally proposed for a wastewater plant and a brief discussion of issues surrounding a north Forsyth sand mine.
All votes were 3-0-2, with Commissioners Pete Amos and Dennis Brown absent. District 1 Commissioner-elect Molly Cooper, who takes office in January, was present at the meeting but could not vote.
Moving forward with McGinnis Ferry
In recent years, Forsyth County has attempted to get agreements with other local governments to widen McGinnis Ferry Road.
After recently approving an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alpharetta last week, commissioners made changes at this week’s meeting by allowing county staff and County Attorney Ken Jarrard to modify the agreement based on comments by the board members and clarifying that the agreement is not binding until approved by commissioners at a future meeting.
“What I don’t want to do is send that intergovernmental agreement down to Alpharetta and it not be exactly the deal we want it to be,” Jarrard said. “I think it’s probably going to spur negotiation… but on the other hand, I don’t want to send something down that is not precisely what we want, they say, ‘We accept,’ and then we’re stuck with a deal we don’t want.”
The project is estimated to cost $54 million, and the city of Johns Creek will also be involved.
Chairman Todd Levent said he was recently in a meeting with local, state and federal officials, who wanted to see the project completed and wanted Forsyth to lead the project. Levent said state officials were not willing to add any more funds to the project until the project started, as prices could increase.
“They would not do it, and they were very clear about it, until Johns Creek and Alpharetta committed more of themselves. They would not tell them what they wanted them to commit, but keep in mind, we have $18 million for our half and collectively on their half they only have $9-$9.5 million,” Levent said.
Levent pointed out that costs for the project had increased since first negotiations.
Despite being the reason for the called meeting, Jarrard withdrew two items from the agenda at the start of the meeting: consideration of an agreement between the county and Georgia Stone Products and a possible county-initiated rezoning for 233.7 acres owned by the Mashburn Marital Trust.
Jarrard said the items were related.
The agreement dealt with the “legal, nonconforming status of the sand mine” on the property and other matters.
“We have an opportunity to potentially resolve or settle that dispute between the parties,” Jarrard said. “However, and candidly, opportunistically, there may be a way to leverage that compromise, something the [District] 4 commissioner had a lot of concern about, and that is a residential Res-6 proposed or potential development to the north of [the property].”
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills joked she preferred Jarrard’s description of the residential property rather than “1,000 apartments with no conditions.” Jarrard said there were limited conditions on the zoning.
In 2012, commissioners settled issues with both parties related to a 2010 zoning decision. Suits were filed after commissioners approved rezoning of 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 Levent was on the board in 2012 and none were on the board in 2010.
Jarrard said the matter was a complicated settlement and he would “rather get it right that get it fast.”
No action was taken.
Commissioners have officially bowed out of a contract for a proposed wastewater plant that generated a fiery response from neighbors.
On Thursday, commissioners voted to terminate 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.
Jarrard said since the agenda item for that day was to extend due diligence for the property by 120 days, “in an abundance of caution” he wanted to add the termination as an official agenda item.
“It’s in the form of housekeeping, but it’s also just me being cautious,” he said.
He said the notice to terminate had been sent to the owners and the funds were being returned to the county.