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Officials sound-off on roundabout
A driver pulling a boat looks back at the boat as they drive through the roundabout at Bald Ridge Marina Road and Bald Ridge Acres Drive. The roundabout is small, so trucks pulling trailers have to cross into the center to make the turn. - photo by Jim Dean

A controversial roundabout on Bald Ridge Marina Road has led to responses from both the city of Cumming and Forsyth County.

In a Forsyth County News story last week, Forsyth County District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson said the controversial roundabout at the intersection of Bald Ridge Marina Road and Bald Ridge Acres Drive were the results of conditions of a city of Cumming zoning.

The roundabout is tied to a 261 townhome unit development at the intersection of Bald Ridge Marina Road and Bald Ridge Acres Drive approved of a city of Cumming in July 2016.

Scott Morgan, director of planning and zoning for the city, said the city approved the zoning and had a condition for the county to move ahead with traffic improvements but did not specifically call for the roundabout.

“We never knew what alternatives were studied,” Morgan said of the city’s involvement. “[The developer] might have said something about a 5-legged intersection or a roundabout, but we never said, ‘hey, yeah do that or do this.’ It was kind of a general, open-ended condition where the council said, ‘we don’t really have legal input in this since [neither] the road nor the intersection are in the city.’”

Morgan said the city had no input into the study and he believes the council was telling the developer to work with the county rather than give them specific directions.

The matter also came up at Thursday’s meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

Forsyth County Engineering Director John Cunard said the department approved the roundabout. He said the city did not specifically call for the roundabout.

“However, prior to the zoning, it had already been determined that that was the improvement that would be recommended,” he said.

Cunard said engineering staff had reviewed the roundabout and “believe it has been operating properly.”

Previously, the county’s engineering department provided the Forsyth County News a 2016 traffic study done by engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

The study looked at what could be done on Bald Ridge Marina Road, the Costco entrance and Bald Ridge Acres Drive and analyzed two alternatives: A “mini-roundabout” or a “5-legged intersection” involving realigning Bald Ridge Acres Drive.

The study recommended the traffic circle.

Permanent striping is still being completed on the roundabout.

Since the installation, residents have voiced concerns, particularly its smaller size, issues for vehicles hauling trailers for boats and other items and the proximity to the red light at the intersection of Bald Ridge Marina Road and the entrance to Costco.

Resident Michelle Gates, who lives near the roundabout, spoke at the commission meeting and shared several of those concerns and said it could lead to legal issues.

“All this is happening prior to that development being finished and prior to any additional traffic being added to this area,” she said. “As much as we appreciate and respect your role in helping Forsyth County be developed and brining new businesses here and helping us grow, we’re kind of imploring you to help us resolve this situation prior to  litigation, because it not only impacts traffic, it impacts property values.”

Neighbors have said the roundabout’s location near Lake Lanier could cause issues for drivers hauling boats, and Cunard said the roundabout is designed to be driven over without damaging vehicles or trailers.

Gates said drivers of 4x4 trucks were driving over the roundabout without hauling trailers.

Semanson had a unique way of describing the size of the intersection.

“It’s like someone put a spare tire in the middle of the intersection,” she said. “It’s really bad.”