The city of Cumming may be Forsyth County’s only city, but a proposal from a local resident would create four new municipalities.
Hank Hanson is currently pushing to get a question added to the 2018 mid-term election that would create the cities of: Sharon Springs in the south; Bethelview in the west; Matt in the north and northwest; and Chestatee in the areas around Lake Lanier.
“The overview is to take the remaining geography of Forsyth County and break it up into the four cities that are north, south, east and west of Hwy. 20 and Ga. 400,” Hanson said, “because they each have their own flavor. Sharon Springs is more congested. Development is occurring in the Bethelview area. Matt really is still rural, and the Chestatee area is all lake people.”
Hanson has been handing out fliers at county meetings and purchasing ads in the Forsyth County News and 400-The Life magazine with a map of what he is proposing and a portion that readers can cut out and send to P.O. box he has set up.
“I run the ads, and I ask them to cut out so everything is above board,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that anybody that sends it in is for or against the issue. It just says put it on the ballot so the Forsyth County voters can decide what they want.”
He said he has only received about a dozen responses, which he said could be due to requiring responders to send in their name and address.
He said he has had a long-standing legal issue with the county regarding renewing a permit to build on his property on Keith Bridge Road, is critical of the county’s planning department and said the proposal would help with issues with the department.
“It’s pretty hard for the county to maintain that focus [on each area] because they don’t seem to care,” he said. “My main objective is to break it up so we take away the power from the county to make our lives miserable with permitting. The rest of the county agencies are fine, but the planning part is pretty much a train wreck.”
Under the proposal, each new city would be able to create a new comprehensive plan, create a new unified development code, issue ordinance permits and business licenses, collect zoning, use, permit and license fees and use SPLOST funds for new city hall complexes.
The cities would also split the maintenance and operations millage rate.
The county would still handle most services not tied to zoning, such as emergency services, parks, animal shelter, elections and others.
In recent years, there has been a push for a city of Sharon Springs. District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones introduced legislation in March to begin the cityhood process, which will be likely be discussed next year.
A group called the Bethelview Alliance also proposed a city in west Forsyth in late 2015, but that proposal has not gained the same public or political support as Sharon Springs’ cityhood.
Hanson said he wants residents to have a chance to vote on the four new cities and that he probably has not made any friends with commissioners.
“I don’t think the commissioners are too happy with me,” he said. “So, what are they going to do, deny my building permit renewal?”