Also on Thursday, commissioners:
• Voted against removing stop signs at North Old Atlanta Road and Werrington Drive. The decision followed a public hearing in which neighbors objected to the idea.
• Approved a resolution to refund county water and sewer variable rate bonds from 2005 and reissue them. The series had been backed by Dexia, a bank with ties to financially unstable Greece, causing the interest rates to skyrocket.
• Held the first of two public hearings on amending the animal control ordinance to include, among others, a provision that a dog which bites another domesticated animal may be declared “dangerous.” The second hearing is Sept. 1.
• Authorized submitting the 2010 Impact Fee Program required reports to the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission and Georgia Department of Community Affairs for review.
Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.
— Alyssa LaRenzie
Forsyth County parks will have less room for smokers.
Commissioners voted 3-2 on Thursday to limit outdoor smoking at county-owned or operated parks to designated areas only.
The ordinance modification also bans any tobacco use in indoor county park facilities.
Commissioners Pete Amos and Jim Boff opposed the changes.
“No smoking’s great, but you had a little bit of push-back. For compromise, [we’re] just trying to allow some designated areas,” Commissioner Todd Levent said.
“I think this will at least encourage most to go in smoking areas and not be blowing it in the children’s faces.”
According to the ordinance, signs will mark designated smoking areas, which will be determined by the parks and recreation department director and the district’s commissioner.
As the rules were written, smoking had been prohibited only in areas of the baseball/softball complexes, and tobacco use was not restricted, said Jerry Kinsey, parks director.
The county parks and recreation board had asked earlier this year that commissioners consider a park-wide ban on tobacco products.
“I think it’s more of a health issue,” Kinsey said. “No smoking is good for families, and no chewing. … It’s just a habit, and people don’t need to be doing it around kids.”
Commissioners began discussing the parks board’s request in April, eventually lessening the recommended extent of the ban.
The commission originally considered having all parks smoke and tobacco free, except parking lots.
Boff said that proposal still made the most sense.
Amos, the other “no” vote, expressed concern about the cost and ability to enforce it.
During two public hearings on the code change, just one resident spoke, and he was against limiting tobacco use.