During a recent work session and regular meeting, Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously, unless otherwise noted, on the following items.
• OK’d a 5 percent merit increase for county and library personnel. The percentage is an average and may be higher or lower based on evaluations – the increase will cost about $3.2 million
• Awarded a bid for environmental monitoring and watershed support services to Jacobs Engineering for about $295,000
• Approved a task order worth $284,140 with Crown and Caldwell Engineering Services for a new water tank in north Forsyth
• Allowed the purchase and installation of WAIS Communications Equipment for trailers at the county’s E-911 center for about $68,000
• Re-appointed Jerry Bowman as the District 2 member of the Public Facilities Authority
• Approved a new citizens advocate group
• Updated the unified development code’s definition for places of worship.
A south Forsyth mixed-use development will be moving ahead as planned after commissioners discussed rescinding the zoning but ran into road block.
At a meeting on Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners voted 3-2, with District 1 Commissioner Pete Amos and District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson against, to deny the rescission of a zoning of a mixed-use development near South Forsyth High School.
The property was originally zoned in December for about 57 acres from agriculture and community business districts to a master planned district, or MPD, for 75 residential lots with 218 attached residential units and commercial buildings. Two-thirds of the project will be age-restricted, and there will be 12 acres of greenspace included.
The development will go north of the intersection of Brannon Road and Ronald Reagan Boulevard and on Access Drive and south of the intersection with Hood Drive.
Commissioners approved the zoning by a 4-1 vote, though Semanson and District 5 Commissioner Rick Swope had not taken office at the time.
Chairman Todd Levent, of District 3, both made the motion to approve the zoning and announced the intention to rescind it at a work session in January.
“I read the rescission back because I was concerned my motion didn’t get clearly stated, and a lot of people didn’t believe the commercial was going to get built if some of the components were not put in,” he said.
Levent said he did not favor rescinding based on County Attorney Ken Jarrard’s opinion and “political games that were played.”
“Unfortunately, I think I was kind of played a little bit in this whole thing. Now, more and more I’m starting to find out about what it’s about. I’m not going to get into the political side of it here,” he said. “I believe there’s some individuals that were involved in this that don’t like each other that are two developers – I’m not going to mention any names. I believe one of them had a lawsuit against another one, and they’ve been playing games with this Board of Commissioners.”
Levent say there may be legal action tied to the matter.
Jarrard told commissioners earlier in the meeting he believes the developer was vested in the property as they had submitted permits the day before the meeting.
“There has been an application for a land disturbance permit that has been provided by this applicant to the county,” Jarrard said. “And for a host of reasons, both under our internal rules and with respect to the law on vested rights under the zoning law, I believe at this point taking away their ability to have their application based on the application would be improper.”
Public comments were held during the meeting, with many of those speaking in favor of the rescission against the entire development and the original zoning due to potentially adding new students to schools, traffic and other growth-related issues.
Josh Scoggins, an attorney representing the property, said he agrees with Jarrard’s legal finding.
“Georgia law is very clear that once you tender that application for a land disturbance permit, you are entitled to have that application considered and approved under the zoning regulations that exist on the property the day you filed it,” he said. “While Mr. Jarrard and I sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye on these things, he and I often do when it comes to rules that are that clear.”