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Talks of developing part of Dawson Forest near north Forsyth resurface
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Forsyth County News

DAWSONVILLE — Dawson County officials have had little contact — and have received even less information — involving the 10,000-acre Dawson Forest Wildlife Management tract owned by the city of Atlanta, despite reports that real estate developers are once again eyeing the land.

The site, which is near the Forsyth-Dawson county line, is one of two large tracts purchased by Atlanta in the 1970s as possible location for a second airport. A study in 2011 determined that developing the property for an airport would be unfeasible financially.

"The Development Authority of Dawson County has not directly engaged with the Atlanta airport department, really since before the recession," said Charlie Auvermann, the authority's executive director.

"The citizens did not want to pursue this, so we dropped it. I wouldn't necessarily expect we'd be involved on the Atlanta end."

Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg said Atlanta held a couple of public hearings over the summer and discussed hiring a real estate consultant to make a review of the land to determine its viability for development.

"We did send David McKee [public works director] and Rachel Burton [planning and development director] down to the hearings, but nothing much was said," Berg said. "I know at that time they were reviewing bids for consulting."

A few months later, Berg said there was a bus tour to Dawsonville for consultants to take a look at the property. "That was the last we'd heard.”

Berg said he has kept in contact with the Atlanta mayor's office, first when Shirley Franklin held the post and continuously since Kasim Reed was elected.

"We wanted to make sure we have a handle on what's going on with the property,” he said. “There have been numerous studies on the trees, topography, on what the land would be best suited to be used for.

"The good news is that if anything happens with the land, if anyone other than the city of Atlanta was going to do anything with it, it would have to go through the county for zoning."

Repeated phone calls seeking comment from Atlanta airport officials and Reed's office were not returned.