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Weapons in parks rule may change
Commissioners approve 2011 budget
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Forsyth County News

Other action
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Forsyth County commission:

• Held a public hearing and presentation on the proposed settlement between the county and Waterscape Services.
The agreement calls for the county to acquire the privately-owned James Creek sewer facility, as was intended several years ago, from Waterscape. The matter has been tied up in court since 2006.
For $2 million, the county will buy the James Creek facility and all its infrastructure, contracts and rights. The funding for the purchase will come from the county’s water and sewer fund.
A resident and developer spoke in favor of the possible settlement, which is scheduled to close no later than Dec. 17.

• Split votes on two proposed changes to the unified development code, including the definition of a “lot,” and removing the commission from handling personnel actions regarding the director of planning and development. The tie votes will carry over to the Dec. 16 meeting.

• Considered rezoning from residential to agricultural several properties owned by a Young Deer Drive goat farmer and a neighboring property owner.
All but two parcels, with which some neighbors disagreed on the rezoning, were approved with conditions. A decision on the remaining two properties was postponed.

• Postponed opening the bids for the design/build of a county-owned animal shelter to Dec. 16.
Those in support of the concept wore blue and filled the meeting room. Five speakers expressed support for the shelter during the public comment period.

• Note: All votes were 4-0 unless otherwise noted. Chairman Charles Laughinghouse was absent.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

A hearing on a proposal to allow certain weapons at public gatherings in Forsyth County parks drew no reaction Thursday.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county is considering whether to repeal a statute that currently bans them. Doing so, he said, would bring the county’s code in line with state law.

“The primary reason for the modification is specifically with respect with firearms,” he said. “The [state] law has changed ... with respect to firearm introduction at parks. Therefore, we need to make sure that our ordinances reflect to the state law.”

Repealing the ordinance would also allow explosive compounds or knives designed “for the purpose of offense and defense,” which are currently banned.

The hearing was the first of two on the matter. The commission could vote on the issue after the second hearing, which likely will take place Jan. 6.

Also Thursday, the commission approved the county’s 2011 budget.

The spending plan had failed to stir any comment from residents since it was presented in November.

“I believe we have approved a budget without one comment from the public,” Commissioner Jim Harrell said after the 4-0 vote, with Chairman Charles Laughinghouse absent.

“I find that absolutely astounding and, quite frankly, disappointing,” Harrell said. “But we have a good budget and I’m happy to vote yes on it.”

The budget is balanced at about $88.1 million, an 8.35 percent increase from the 2010 revised budget of about $81.3 million.

The commission also approved an extension of the 3 percent employer contribution to employee 401Ks and enacted four unpaid holidays through resolutions set to sunset in 2011.