In a relatively quick work session on Monday, Forsyth County Commissioners accomplished several things including naming a new park, possible new development fees for schools and a plan for new trails in north Forsyth.
All votes are 4-0 unless otherwise noted.
Following a recommendation from the county’s park and recreation board, commissioners approved Denmark Park as the name for a new park in southwest Forsyth. Fittingly, the park will be located across Mullinax Road from Denmark High School.
When asked by commissioners if he felt the name of the school and park might confuse visitors, Parks Director Jim Pryor said schools and parks of the same name are common in Gwinnett County.
“At first, I thought there would be some confusion with that, but I don’t think so,” he said. “I think it’s identifying the area.”
In March, commissioners approved the purchase of about 57 acres at 500 Windy Hill Drive for $5.9 million and 23 acres on Mullinax Road for about $2.4 million.
Plan coming together
In recent years, commissioners have discussed a potential trail system in north Forsyth. On Tuesday, Commissioners approved having Kimley-Horn and Associates complete a subarea plan proposal which would include the addition of new trails.
“The vision is, prior to the northern area developing out, to have a plan in place where we can, in addition to planning for our greenway system that is in our [bicycle and pedestrian] plan, also to look at connection trails and also to look at additional trail systems between Eagle’s Beak [Park], between Sawnee Mountain, across 400 to Lake Lanier,” said Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, deputy director of planning and community development.
With the upcoming retirement of Fire Chief Danny Bowman, his positions as fire chief and emergency management director will also be filled.
Commissioners approved new classifications for both “at will” positions, which will serve under the direction of County Manager Eric Johnson.
Earlier this week, Division Chief Barry Head was named interim fire chief, and during the meeting, county officials indicated the emergency management director role would be filled by Chris Grimes, who currently serves as deputy director.
Impact fees for schools
Following the lead of the Forsyth County Board of Education, which recently approved a similar motion, commissioners approved asking Forsyth County’s delegation of the Georgia General Assembly to “introduce legislation and/or a constitutional amendment” to allow boards of education to collect school impact fees following a referendum.
Impact fees are charges for new development that help cover the cost of increased demand on infrastructure, services and amenities.
Forsyth currently collects impact fees for parks, libraries and emergency services, though fees cannot currently be collected for schools, which would require a change to the state constitution.
If approved, the fees would not immediately be available statewide, instead requiring each jurisdiction to hold a referendum.
The local delegation pushed for similar legislation in 2016 after similar requests from the commission and board of education, though it did not move ahead at the Capitol.