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Another Forsyth County Ingles could become an auto dealership

The latest on a years-long push to widen a busy south Forsyth road, an annexation request from the city of Cumming that could make way for a new car dealership and hotel and environmentally-friendly initiatives around the county were among items discussed at a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners work session on Tuesday.

All items were approved by a 5-0 vote unless otherwise noted.


Dealership coming to the city

A request from the city of Cumming to annex about 11 acres could lead to a new auto dealership and other businesses at what is currently an Ingles grocery store on Buford Highway.

Commissioners postponed a decision for two weeks on whether to approve or oppose the annexation of 11 acres including the grocery store and land behind the business.

According to County Attorney Ken Jarrard, plans for the development include building a new Cadillac dealership, converting the existing grocery store to office or warehouse space and building a third building to be used as a restaurant, retail, hotel or office building.

The property would go from the county’s commercial business district (CBD) zoning to the city’s highway business (HB) district with a conditional-use permit for an auto dealership.

The annexation would not include an adjacent building used by several local companies, including Tam’s Tupelo Restaurant and Socks’ Love Barbecue.

Documents from the county indicate the property would be used by Lake Lanier Cadillac, which announced plans last summer to move into Forsyth County from Gainesville albeit at another location, on Buford Highway. According to online planning documents, a request to rezone land for the previous location was withdrawn in July.

Chairwoman Laura Semanson said she had previously spoken with the developer’s attorney about presenting the project to commissioners before going to the city, which the attorney had agreed to but “obviously he did not.”

If approved, the development would be the second local Ingles to close in order to open a car dealership.

In December, commissioners approved alternate design standards and a request to build a 79,000-square-foot vehicle sales dealership  and 502 parking spaces on 12 acres that is currently the sight of an Ingles at the intersection of Bethelview and Atlanta roads

The item will come up at the board’s next meeting. 

Moving ahead with McGinnis Ferry

After years of trying to come to an agreement with neighboring municipalities about a project to widen McGinnis Ferry Road, commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement dealing with roadway acquisition for the project.

Forsyth County will handle obtaining road right-of-way for the project, while the cities of Johns Creek and Alpharetta will each oversee construction projects starting in each city and meeting in the middle.

“What we’d like to do is go forward and acquire right of way for the entire roadway of McGinnis Ferry limit to limit,” said County Manager Eric Johnson.

Alpharetta’s portion of the project would widen the road from Union Hill Road to the crossing of Big Creek, including a bridge going over the waterway, and Johns Creek will widen from Sergeant Road to 7 Oaks Parkway.

According to the agreement, the county is “solely responsible for coordinating the procurement and contracting” with appraisal services for right of way and easements.

Johnson said he had met with officials in both cities in November and all parties wanted to move forward with the project.

Under a previous agreement, Forsyth committed $18 million for the project, while the state would contribute about $10 million and Alpharetta and Johns Creek would contribute about $9 million each.

County officials said the county would not be contributing additional funding to the project.

The county will be able to move ahead once all three governments have signed the agreement.


Going electric

Forsyth County could soon not only add electric vehicles to their fleet but also add charging stations at county buildings.

The proposal was discussed after Avery Gravitt, the county’s director of fleet services, gave a presentation on the growth of electric vehicles in recent years.

“There’s a lot of information out there about electric vehicles. It’s new to Forsyth County, new to us in fleet maintenance, but it’s a growing trend, a growing product,” Gravitt said.

As part of the presentation, Gravitt said the county may look into leasing the vehicles rather than buying them. Leases typically only last a few years, Gravitt said, and vehicles would still be under warranty. Leasing would also allow the county to test the technology at a cheaper rate with the option to purchase vehicles at the end of their lease.

Areas in the county being considered for charging stations include the fleet maintenance department on County Way, the Mason Street Deck, future county buildings, the Cumming and Hampton libraries and Central and Fowler parks.

County leaders would also need to decide which types of chargers – which can range from charging about five miles of range per hour to 250 miles in a few minutes – and how much to charge users, which would likely be on a scale that would increase after a few hours of charging to limit drivers using a space for too long.

Officials said the charging stations could lead to a benefit for local businesses as they would be among the last charging stations for travelers heading to the North Georgia mountains.

“With the new Teslas, the thing tells you where to plan your stops – 20 minutes for coffee here, dinner – so you don’t have to do a full charge,” District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown said.

No action was taken at the meeting, and the issue will come back to the commission in February.


Business moving

A company specializing in adding sirens lights and other safety products could be moving in south Forsyth.

Commissioners voted to begin the process for a county-initiated conditional-use permit for West Chatham Warning Devices, which is planning to move into a lot on Commerce Boulevard.

The Savannah-based company currently has a location on Brandon Trail and officials with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said they often work with the business.

“It is largely due to their relationship with us that they opened this shop,” said Maj. Tom Patton.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing for the permit at a future meeting.