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Hearings galore before commission
Synthetic marijuana, taxes on tap
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners have a busy meeting today, featuring a lineup of 19 public hearings on issues ranging from property taxes and synthetic marijuana to zoning requests.

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. in the Forsyth County Administration Building.

The first hearing will be an open forum for residents to comment on the 2013 proposed millage rates for the county’s maintenance and operations, fire and general obligation bonds.

Commissioners proposed no change to last year’s rates, at a total of 7.656 mills. A mill is $1 per $1,000 of taxable value.

The commission plans to adopt the rates at its July 19 meeting, but the Thursday hearing is the only one scheduled so far.

Some potential county ordinance changes will also be aired for the public Thursday.

A section addressing synthetic marijuana could toughen enforcement of the products in Forsyth.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the ordinance is intended to capture similar substances that the state law does not cover.

The commission has expressed concern about the manufacturers of products intended to simulate the effects of marijuana changing chemical compounds to stay ahead of the state’s bans, Jarrard said.

“Those things that are not captured by the state’s regulations — but do attempt to be this synthetic marijuana product — that’s what we’re endeavoring to regulate,” he said.

“We’re proposing to do it by making it a violation of county code for someone to sell, manufacture, distribute, etc., a synthetic product that simulates the effects of marijuana that is not regulated by the state of Georgia.”

The public hearing will be the first of two required before the commission can vote to adopt the ordinance.

One of two hearings on updating the animal control ordinance will also take place.

Those changes, Jarrard said, are being made to match the county’s laws to modifications made by the state legislature in the most recent session that address dangerous dogs.

“It’s a lot of synthesis and condensing a lot of language,” he said. “I’ll go over it all at the public hearing.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of significant impact in the application of the ordinance. It’s mainly just the actual verbiage.”

The final hearing on changes to the county’s sign ordinance will give the public a last opportunity to address the commissioners before they are able to vote.

Those modifications will carve out exceptions for illuminated signs to be allowed on residential properties for specific uses, including nonprofits, on certain types of roads.

Nearly a dozen hearings addressing requests for zoning amendments by residential developers are also on tap Thursday.