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Route for fifth phase of Big Creek Greenway in west Forsyth may change

WEST FORSYTH — Changes to the proposed fifth phase of the popular Big Creek Greenway may cause some tension between neighborhoods in west Forsyth.

Forsyth County commission voted 3-1, with Jim Boff against and Pete Amos recused, to hold a public hearing on possibly altering the route of the extension between Kelly Mill Road and Sawnee Mountain visitors’ center.

The current plan shows the greenway running in front of homes along Valley Lane and Mountain Valley Circle and going through woods to connect with Canton Highway (Hwy. 20).

The proposed alternate route would instead cut behind homes on Conley Drive and run along the city of Cumming’s sewer easement before connecting to the highway.

“This would relocate the route along a creek, it would move it out of a subdivision,” said Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt. “There has been considerable discussion that residents … really did not want this route coming through their subdivision.”

According to Boff, however, such talk likely will anger two neighborhoods instead of one.

“In all probability there is now going to be two sets of people who don’t like the route,” Boff said. “In fact, now they’ll turn out more because there’s a 50/50 it will go to the other guy, if they could just get in there and be against it enough.”

The new proposed route would stretch about a mile, and the redesign cost would be just shy of $50,000. The actual construction cost would be $206,000.

Engineering Director John Cunard said the current route had been approved six years ago using input from area residents.

“We had a public participation meeting in 2009, and we do [still] have the comments,” he said. “That’s what the decision was based on… I’d have another [meeting] before I changed it.”

The greenway currently runs about 6.8 miles between McFarland Parkway in south Forsyth and Bethelview Road.

Construction of the fourth phase, from Bethelview up to Kelly Mill near Johnson Road, began in November 2013 and is ongoing.

The construction is being funded by the parks, recreation and green space bond program voters approved years ago.