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Official: City of Sharon Springs in south Forsyth unlikely
Tam Brian

SOUTH FORSYTH — It appears the effort to form a city in south Forsyth may not have enough support to clear the Georgia Legislature.

Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam mentioned the matter Monday during discussion of a separate issue at a called meeting.

“It’s my understanding, last Wednesday, that a member of the state delegation announced that the city of Sharon Springs was not moving forward in the General Assembly,” Tam said.

Commissioners Jim Boff and Todd Levent responded by noting that the decision wasn’t official.

“As far as I know, they haven’t announced it yet,” Levent said.

However, Tam countered that it was his understanding it had been announced.

Reached by email later Monday, District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon declined comment, saying only that the matter would be addressed Tuesday at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Pre-Legislative Breakfast.

Dudgeon represents south Forsyth, including much of the area that the proposed city would cover. He introduced legislation to incorporate the city in March.

If approved, Sharon Springs would be a so-called “city light,” meaning that it would have a limit of a maximum millage rate of 0.5 mills and offer just three services — zoning, sanitation and code enforcement.

In a recent interview, state Sen. Michael Williams, whose District 27 covers most of Forsyth County, said that the legislative attitude towards “city lights” was “not very friendly.”

Levent also has said the state was taking a look at the legal status of such municipalities.

The proposed city limits of Sharon Springs would be an area east of Ga. 400, south of Hwy. 20, west of the Chattahoochee River and north of the Fulton County line. An estimated quarter of the county’s population, some 50,000 people, lives in that area.

Both the Sharon Springs Alliance, a group that supports the new city, and Forsyth County’s government have each commissioned studies by state universities to measure the impact of a new municipality.

Those in favor of Sharon Springs contend the area has been misrepresented in terms of zoning, which is among the driving factors in the cityhood movement. Opponents have voiced concerns about a possible higher tax burden.

If the Sharon Springs’ plan were to clear the General Assembly this winter, a referendum on the city could be held later in 2016. Only those living within the proposed city limits — an estimated quarter of the county’s population, or some 50,000 people — would be eligible to vote.

If successful at the polls, the city could begin operating by 2017.

A new group, the Bethelview Alliance, announced last week that it would be exploring the possibility of incorporating an area of west Forsyth.

Commissioners did not talk about the Bethelview movement Monday during their meeting, which was held to formalize several requests to the county’s state legislative delegation.

Among the requests, the county wants the lawmakers’ support in holding public hearings about possibly replacing the planning board with separate planning panels for each of Forsyth’s five districts.

District 2 is scheduled to get its own subarea planning board in January.