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A new look? Commissioners expand contract for design, branding in southeast Forsyth
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After steps taken by commissioners earlier this year to alleviate some concerns related to the formerly proposed city of Sharon Springs, southeast Forsyth could be getting a new look, both in terms of design standards and a new branding initiative.

Forsyth County Commissioners voted 4-0, with District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown absent, to go ahead with expanding contracted proposals done by TSW, a design firm from Atlanta, for southeast Forsyth to include the standards and branding.

The design standards and branding initiative components of the contract with TSW is expected to cost an additional $85,970 and was approved as being split between Districts 1, 2 and 5 using a portion of $250,000 that each commissioner can spend on their district toward the plan.

“I was talking about leveraging at least some portion of that,” said District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson.  “Dennis [Brown] and I both have had an interest in furthering this project, so I would like to be able to – contingent on us identifying [and] agreeing to the funding sources for that – to move forward for this. This is the way the county can make good on the promise to meet the folks who wanted to have an identity for southeast Forsyth, AKA Sharon Springs and others.”

In recent months, members of a steering committee for the proposal have met and the county has hosted public information sessions for the community to see the plans.

Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, deputy director of the county’s planning and community development department, said the branding would “develop a graphic identity” with a logo, tagline and designs.

The expanded contracted proposal will need a three-day workshop, meetings and an open house as it is being developed.

The area is largely in the footprint of the once-proposed city of Sharon Springs in south Forsyth. The city was rejected by voters during this year’s May primary.

Those in favor of the city, which could only be voted on by those living in the area, were the majority – earning about 54 percent of the vote (7,616) and those opposed about 46 percent (6,351) – but fell short of the 57.5 percent approval needed to become a reality.

Semanson said the approval would “fulfill the promise” the county could work to provide what the community was asking for in terms of branding, identity and design standards for the area.

“What we want to do is create some sort of a marker that signals you’ve entered Forsyth County as you go down Hwy. 20 from Gwinnett moving toward the city of Cumming, that we establish that as a main thoroughfare, a boulevard if you will, that has a little bit more flavor of the county,” Semanson said.

“Doing that through repetitive markers, repetitive signage, landscaping that’s complimentary, working with the businesses and developments that line that boulevard to ensure that we’re all working together with their funds [and] our funds to try to create that.”