Residents living in south Forsyth had a chance this week to ask questions and get answers from their local elected officials.
On Thursday evening, more than 100 county residents came out to a town hall meeting held at the cafeteria of Brookwood Elementary School, where residents had a chance to meet and discuss topics with elected officials representing south Forsyth and Forsyth County.
“Our goal is to be able to hear you out,” said District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones at the beginning of the meeting, “and hopefully be able to answer as many questions as you have.”
Along with Jones, other officials taking part in the open house were District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown, District 2 representative for the Forsyth County Board of Education Kristin Morrissey and Chief Dep. Grady Sanford and Maj. Joe Perkins of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
The meeting covered several topics of interest for those living in south Forsyth, including the proposed city of Sharon Springs, overcrowded schools, traffic woes and crime in the community.
Jones, who introduced a bill last year starting the cityhood process for Sharon Springs, gave the crowd information on groups for and against the city and encouraged those wanting to find out more information to look at the findings of a 12-member committee, made up of members from across the county, formed to look at cityhood.
“I’m biased, but … I do believe the Sharon Springs committee has a report that goes right down the middle and gives you a [frequently asked questions] style left and right or pro and con for those issues,” he said. “At the same time, it would be crazy to assume that website should be the only thing.”
In October, the committee recommended allowing voters living in the area of the proposed city to decide whether a new city is formed, which would need to pass with at least 57.5 percent of the vote. The committee’s findings are available at sharonspringscommitee.com.
The bill will need to pass both houses of the Georgia General Assembly and be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal to go to voters. If passed, the referendum will be held in May 2018.
‘We could have the option of doing the bond, it’s certainly a possibility, but … if we don’t have enough money to build a school, then we put out more trailers. Trailers are not free. They’re rented. They’re leased.’Kristin Morrissey District 2, Forsyth County School Board
Morrissey took on questions about concerns with local schools, including the need for new bonds to be issued for capital projects.
“We could have the option of doing the bond, it’s certainly a possibility, but … if we don’t have enough money to build a school, then we put out more trailers,” she said. “Trailers are not free. They’re rented. They’re leased. There’s no value … That comes out of our local funds, so we don’t commit a dime of state funds to those trailers.”
She also said the county had built 33 schools since 1993 and the county must have all of its funding — she said 60 percent of funds are local and the rest comes from the state — before the state will not give its portion.
Morrissey said though overcrowding was an issue, it could not be used as a hardship to limit the number of homes built in the county due to the performance and success of the school system.
Forsyth County Commissioners spoke on road and development projects, and a mixed-use development located at the intersection of Peachtree Parkway and Brookwood Road was among those topics.
According to a county website, the development is proposed for 76.114 acres for 202 attached residential units and commercial buildings.
Brown said the county is working to improve the quality of that development and a public participation meeting would be held on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Old Atlanta Park.
“They’re coming up with a new version of what they’re proposing,” he said. “We’ve went back several times asking for better quality restaurants and shops and things so it has a place, has a purpose.”
Members of the sheriff’s office spoke on crimes that are on the rise in the county. Drugs, particularly heroin and fentanyl, were discussed and officers went through a new partnership between Forsyth County and the cities of Johns Creek and Alpharetta to stop drug dealers.
Perkins said there said property crimes are on the rise as well, due to the affluence of the community.
“If you’re going to rob a bank, are you going to go to a bank that is about to close their doors because they’re going out of business or are you going to one that’s got money blowing out the windows,” he asked. “We’re doing the same thing; they’re coming here. What we’re seeing is a lot of the property crimes that are being committed here are from outside our jurisdiction.”
Attendee Angela Johnson said she liked being able to hear from the elected officials and came for information on schools and the new city particularly.
“I thought they all did a great job answering and fielding questions from a variety of topics,” Johnson said. “I came out because I wanted to ask a question about the school board and what they want to do about overcrowding schools, and then I wanted to hear a little bit more about Sharon Springs.”