Upcoming chances for public participation on Foster Forsyth, the county’s comprehensive plan for future land use and development:
• Open houses: Monday and Wednesday, 4-8 p.m., Forsyth County administration building
• Draft available online: Expected by Tuesday
• Planning board public hearing: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m.
FORSYTH COUNTY -- Forsyth County residents will have two opportunities this week to learn more about and give input on the most recent draft of an update to the county’s comprehensive plan.
From 4-8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, two open houses will be held on the update to the county’s future land use vision, also called Foster Forsyth, at the Forsyth County administration building in downtown Cumming.
Officials working on the update will be available to discuss the plan with members of the public, though there will not be a formal presentation.
“It’s a chance for stakeholders to see components of the draft plan, ask questions of the consultant team and planning staff either about the process or about elements of the plan,” said Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, deputy director of planning and community development for the county. “It’s the first time that the public will have a chance to look at a complete draft.”
Input from the meetings will be used as part of the update, and a full draft of the plan should be available online by Aug. 30.
Residents hoping to express their vision for the future of the county only have a few remaining opportunities.
The plan was broken down into five parts: initiate, reflect, envision, prioritize and complete. Currently, the plan is going through the final two phases, with the prioritize portion wrapping up at the end of the month.
The next opportunity for the public to get involved will be at a public hearing before the county planning board on Sept. 27.
Information for the plan was gathered from the public at several meetings held by Foster Forsyth, including design, visioning and implementation workshops.
Officials said more than 500 total participants took part in those workshops and that more than 4,800 responded to an online community survey that was open to the public for a month.
“We have heard from a number of different community members through the variety of input channels offered during the planning process,” Amanda Horton of Jacobs Engineering said in an email. “While we have seen greater participation from some areas of the community than others, we have heard from people from all quadrants in the county.”
Forsyth County has contracted Jacobs Engineering and Kimley-Horn and Associates to create the plan.
Foster Forsyth has also been driven by members of the plan’s vision and steering committee, which has concluded their meetings.
Forsyth County commissioners had planned to take action on the update in December, but it appears that deadline has been pushed back.
At a work session this week, commissioners voted 5-0 to alter the timeline to involve incoming commissioners — Laura Semanson, of District 5, and Rick Swope, of District 2. Both won their Republican primary election earlier this year and have no Democrats opposing them in November, so they will presumably take office in January — after the plan was originally to be voted on.
“We worked on a new timeline because there was some discussion that the new commissioners wanted to take part in this comp plan update,” said Chairman Pete Amos, of District 1, “and paying credence to the old commissioners who want to take some credit or take a look at the comp plan to try to infuse both the outgoing and new incoming commissioners into the whole process.”
The first change will be a newly scheduled meeting on Sept. 13 between Foster Forsyth officials, commissioners, the county’s planning board and Semanson and Swope.
The new timeline will push back a recommendation from the planning board to October, though the Sept. 27 public hearing will not change.
Also being moved back is the time for the county to send a plan review to the state, which will be done in December instead of October.
Commissioners are scheduled to take action on the plan in March instead of December.
More information can be found at fosterforsyth.com.