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Impact fees, new development among four things from this week’s BOC meeting

In a work session on Tuesday, Forsyth County Commissioners heard an update on a proposed large mixed-use/residential development in the city of Cumming, heard an update to a new tool to monitor air quality and discussed a new World War II Memorial at the Forsyth County Courthouse, among other issues.

All votes are 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

New development 

Earlier this year, a unique request came to commissioners to annex about 100 acres on Ronald Reagan Boulevard near Northside Hospital Forsyth, though that approval was contingent on whether the proposed city of Sharon Springs passed or failed since part of the property was in the city footprint.

After voters rejected the proposed second city in Forsyth County, the land came under city control, but the unique circumstance continued this week as plans for the land came back to commissioners for their approval.

Woody Snell, with the Lynwood Development Group, said the development will include apartments, a hotel, open space and office space on 22 acres out of more than 100 acres annexed by the city.

He said the development was supported by the hospital. 

Since the developer is requesting a more dense zoning from the city than was requested in the annexation and the annexation happened less than a year ago, the request came back to the commissioners.

If commissioners vote against the changes, the developer cannot have a zoning decision from the city until May 1, the anniversary of the annexation being approved by the Cumming City Council. 

District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson expressed concerns that commissioner approval could mean other property owners would try to go to the city for more intense zonings. 

No action was taken at the meeting, and the development will be discussed at a special called meeting on Oct. 30. 

Detecting pollutants

Through a debate in late 2017 and early 2018 related to the expansion of Eagle Point Landfill and the addition of a methane gas refinery on the property, commissioners committed to adding a new tool to manage air quality in the area.

On Oct. 23, commissioners approved moving ahead with agreements and any other steps needed for an “ambient air monitoring research project” with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. 

The project will include a 6-10 foot meteorological tower, an anemometer to measure wind speed and direction and beta attenuation monitor to measure air quality by absorbing beta radiation from air at Eagle’s Beak Park. 

“We have received numerous complaints through the years in and around the Eagle Point Landfill, so we would look for a site up in that general area,” said Assistant County Manager Garrin Coleman. 

Coleman described the research as a “pilot program” planned for two years, which would mean one year before and one year during the operation of the methane plant.

Impact fees move ahead

With the next session of the Georgia General Assembly meeting in January, commissioners are requesting members of the local delegation once again look at potentially collecting impact fees for schools.

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.

World War II memorial

Downtown Cumming is home to a number of statues, including county namesake John Forsyth, Lady Justice and a chicken farmer and young girl representing the area’s agricultural past.

Those could soon be joined by a new statue honoring and remembering those who fought in World War II.

Commissioners voted to work with the county’s development authority on a joint World War II Memorial at the Forsyth County Courthouse, in a circular area across the street from the county administration building.

The development authority will contribute $20,000 and the county will give $130,000 earmarked in special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, funding.

The statue will be sculpted by Gregory Johnson, who has created all the statues downtown, and will feature a soldier in a humanitarian role.