Also Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners:
Approved amendments to the unified development code that will allow commercial vehicles to be parked, with restrictions, on agriculturally zoned properties.
Postponed a decision on whether to rescind a previous vote that authorized a U.S. Housing and Urban Development loan pre-application on behalf of developer Almquist Hansen to be sent to the state Department of Community Affairs. At a previous meeting, there was a split vote on the issue. That sends it to the next meeting when the full board is present. With two members absent Thursday, that tiebreaker will go to the June 16 meeting. The developer hopes to acquire the $5 million loan to assist in building a high-end senior living community in the Windermere area. The project is eligible for HUD because the jobs it would create fall in the low- to medium-income range.
Ratified a resolution approving a $4.9 million bond for the Development Authority on behalf of Goodwill of North Georgia. The approval is needed for the loan, though the county will not be involved in the transaction. The Goodwill organization wants to build a retail and donation site on McFarland Parkway in south Forsyth.
Note: Unless otherwise listed, all votes were 3-0 with Commissioners Brian Tam and Todd Levent absent.
— Alyssa LaRenzie
Forsyth County commissioners are considering a change that could ease the conversion of billboards to LED signs.
The commission held the first of two required public hearings on the sign ordinance modification Thursday.
As the code currently reads, billboard owners must reduce the sign size by 15 percent if they wish to convert to LED, or light-emitting diode, boards.
The change would allow for the sign size to remain the same, provided that billboard owners agree to display public service messages, such as Amber alerts or emergency road closures.
"What we’re saying is you can keep it the same size," Commissioner Pete Amos said. "We’re not allowing you to enlarge signs or create more signs."
Attorney Emory Lipscomb spoke on behalf of Olympus Media, a billboard company in favor of the measure.
The 15-percent reduction in sign size is a requirement unique to Forsyth County, Lipscomb said, and increases the costs for advertisers.
In exchange for allowing the standard size for LED signs, Lipscomb said Olympus Media agreed with the idea of providing a public announcement service to the community.
Resident Kirk Wintersteen spoke against the change to the ordinance because it makes the county less attractive and less safe for drivers.
"I see those LED signs flashing messages," Wintersteen said. "You can’t tell me that adds safety. It distracts from safety."
Commissioner Patrick Bell said an existing county ordinance sets a minimum time requirement for displays to change on LED signs.
The commission could make a decision on the change following a second public hearing on July 7.