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What's going on with an old golf course's controversial dam? Forsyth County Commission votes to find out.
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Forsyth County Commissioners had their work cut out for them in their last meeting of the year on Thursday, as a controversial golf course zoning, a storage unit facility and the widening of a busy road were discussed.

All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

Golf course dam

Following an executive session, commissioners voted to authorize county staff to conduct due diligence on a dam on a track of the Lanier Golf Club development, to retain a third-party to do due diligence on the remediation of the dam and requested that the property owner has no further work done until Jan. 31, 2019, when due diligence is completed.

“This is about the fact that we’ve got a dam that is a matter of controversy that has been disturbed to the point that it is in the process of failure and right now we’re at a critical point, we have to get the bleeding to stop,” District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson said.

Semanson said she wanted something with “more teeth” than a request and recommended a stop work order. Other members of the board said a stop work order would need to come from county staff.

The development has received renewed interest from neighbors following the closing of the golf course this fall.

Issues surrounding the golf course go back more than a decade. The current battle to rezone the golf course appeared to be finished in December 2016, when Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-2, with then-District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff and District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent opposed, to approve two zoning amendment requests tied to the course.

The approval cleared the way for a 321-unit residential development on the golf course, which had been an issue in the community for more than a decade and has resulted in multiple lawsuits.

In March 2017, after Semanson replaced Boff as commissioner, the commission voted 4-1, with Semanson opposed, to rezone an additional four parcels surrounded by the golf course from agriculture district, A1, to master planned district, MPD. Prior to approval, Semanson made a motion to deny the zoning but did not receive a second.

That site plan included 71 townhomes, 155 single-family detached houses and 95 single-family residential Res-2 units.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard added the item to the agenda as a potential acceptance of land.

Storage yards to approve

Forsyth County residents will have two more places to store property.

Commissioners voted to rezone 6.9 acres on Waldrip Road from lakeside residential [LR] district to commercial business district [CB] and four acres on Canton Highway from residential district [R1] to restricted industrial district [M1] with a conditional-use permit for separate storage yard facilities.

The Waldrip Road property will include a 300-square-foot office with two parking spaces and 179 parking spaces in the storage yard.

Commissioners added conditions that the property would have no access on Pleasant Grove Circle and hours of operation will be 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

McGinnis Ferry agreement

The future widening of McGinnis Ferry Road has been a rift between Forsyth County and the city of Alpharetta for years but it appears the project is moving forward.

Commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Alpharetta for design, engineering, right of way acquisition, utility relocation and construction related to the widening of the roadway.

“The county has for some time understood the significant cost of this widening. We have… roughly $18 million committed to this already,” Jarrard said. “GDOT, we believe, has at least $10 million and we have been looking for our corporate municipal corporation partners to share at least 25 percent each of the entire project funding for this.”

The project is estimated to cost $54 million, and the city of Johns Creek will also be involved.

Under the agreement, Forsyth County will lead the project. County Manager Eric Johnson said a third-party company will likely be used instead of county employees to avoid potential funding issues.

Levent said he had recently attended a meeting with leaders from Alpharetta and GDOT and said “the bottom line is the state wants this project done.”