Expansion of a local recovery center, new rules for businesses carrying drug substitutes and the 2019 budget were among items discussed at the Forsyth County Commission’s meeting on Thursday.
All items were approved by a 4-0 vote, with District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown absent.
The county’s next meeting is a work session at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Forsyth County Administration Building, 110 E. Main Street.
Commissioners approved a conditional-use permit and the rezoning of 8.26 acres from restricted industrial district (M1) to commercial business district (CBD) for an expansion of No Longer Bound, a recovery and regeneration program in Forsyth County for men overcoming addiction located at 2725 Pine Grove Road.
“This rezoning of half our campus and rezoning of the full campus will allow us to really be able to fully utilize our campus the way we want to, to really be able to expand and grow to meet the county’s needs,” said Edward Bailey, executive director of NLB. “As everyone knows, the demand, the need is quite high right now. We’re receiving about 30-100 calls every single day right now.”
Unlike most zonings, the first of two required public hearings for the change was held in May, as a six-month wait is required for such facilities.
Commissioners heard the first of two required public hearings for three changes related to drug substitutes in the county. None of the changes can be adopted until a second public hearing is held.
If approved, the changes would include licensing for “unregulated marijuana, opiate and steroid substitutes and alternative nicotine products, licensing for alternative nicotine products and regulations for the substitutes.”
The first change will potentially impact the alcohol sales for businesses selling the substitutes and alternative nicotine products by tying violations of those rules to businesses’ alcohol licenses.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Mills said she was recently at a drug meeting with representatives from across the country and told them about the proposal.
“They were very complimentary of it,” Mills said.
The licensing requirements for the alternative nicotine products — which includes vape juice — sets how far stores must be from schools or church buildings and fees for an annual license: $1,000 for stores that primarily sell the products and $750 for stores where the products are “not the primary purpose of retail sales of the establishment.”
Jarrard said the fees were not meant to be punitive but were to cover costs of enforcement.
The final hearing will set definitions for the drug substitutes and ban their sale. Violators can lose alcohol licenses or business licenses in the county.
Jarrard said the producers of those products are typically a step ahead of regulation and slightly change the contents as rules change.
Sheriff Ron Freeman said he fully supported the change, but expressed some concern with the regulation of the items.
“I doubt that I’m going to find anything on the market that says, ‘It’s better than methamphetamine,’ ‘Gives a feeling like methamphetamine,’ ‘Gives a feeling like oxycodone,’ something like that,” Freeman said. “That terminology as written, I want you to understand the challenge.”
Freeman said he was having trouble coming up with language that would capture what the county was trying to do.
Completing a process that started over the summer, commissioners also approved the 2019 county budget with an amendment for a 4 percent merit increase for employee salaries.
The budget will be balanced at $137.9 million for the county’s general fund.
The budget includes 37 new positions through the county’s general fund, 27 new positions through other funds and an increase in health care and internal service costs.
Other than the general fund, the budget includes the special revenue, grant and bond funds.
In May, commissioners approved the 2019 millage rate at 7.936 mills for the county rate, down slightly from a rate of 8.036 mills approved for 2018. The Forsyth County Board of Education approved a millage rate of 19.718 mills, meaning a total county rate of 27.654 mills.
The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.
The county’s millage rate is made up of the net maintenance and operations, fire district and general obligation bond rates.