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Two commissioners prepare to depart
Staff holds reception
retire 2 jim charlie2111F5
Charles Laughinghouse, left, shakes hands with fellow Forsyth County Commissioner Jim Harrell on Thursday before their last meeting. - photo by Jim Dean

Other action

Also during Thursday’s meeting, Forsyth County commissioners:

• Voted 3-2 to buy two properties on Echols Road for greenspace. The purchase price would be $30,000 per acre, except for pieces encumbered by easements, which would be $15,000 per acre. A closing date has been set for Dec. 31 for the adjacent sites, which are in District 5. Commissioners Brian Tam and Patrick Bell opposed the measure in the 3-2 vote.

• Rezoned by unanimous vote two parcels on Young Deer Drive from residential to agricultural for
use as a goat farm. Conditions restrict when the goats can be on the land.

• Removed language from the unified development code that puts personnel decisions regarding the director of planning under the commission’s authority. The vote was 3-2, with Bell and Tam opposed.

• Authorized a settlement agreement for litigation with Waterscape Services that will, in part, turn the James Creek wastewater treatment plant over to the county. Commissioner Jim Harrell opposed the measure, which passed 4-1.

• Granted a rezoning to residential from commercial and office and industrial for a future elementary school on Martin Drive in southwestern Forsyth. The vote was 3-0, with Bell and Tam absent.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

Two outgoing Forsyth County commissioners were honored for their service during their last regular meeting on Thursday.

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse, who joined the board in 2003, and Commissioner Jim Harrell, who has served since 2007, thanked the community, county staff and their families for supporting them during their time in public office.

Laughinghouse gave an emotional speech of appreciation for his family, especially his wife, who has attended nearly every regular commission meeting during his tenure.

“She has a memorial seat back in the back corner,” he said. “The reason for that, she says, is so I can look out and at least see one friendly face in the audience.”

Laughinghouse has served as District 1 commissioner for eight years and as chairman, a post elected by his peers, for the past four.

While he won’t be representing the public next year, Laughinghouse said he plans to stay active in the community.

“I’m retiring from public office, but not public service,” he said.

He opted not to seek a third term. Pete Amos won the July primary election and will succeed him in January.

Harrell said it has been a “rare privilege” to get the opportunity to work as the District 3 commissioner.

He thanked county staff members for their hard work and wished the next commission luck in its endeavors.

Harrell also left some parting advice for residents, reminding them to “stay vigilant and to speak out on key pocketbook issues.”

Elected by his peers as vice chairman for all four years of his term, Harrell did not win his bid for re-election during the primary.
Todd Levent will take office in January.

During a reception prior to the meeting, several senior county staff members and other active public figures visited with the commissioners.

Both men received resolutions in honor of their services and received standing ovations from the large crowd during their final meeting.

They still have one work session, however, which is set for Dec. 28.