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Commissioners deny Horizon Christian Academy’s annexation request
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Forsyth County Board of Commissioners heard an annexation request by Horizon Christian Academy for about 34 acres off Sawnee Drive during a work session on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Molly Esswein, representing Jarrard’s office, said that the current use of the property is for a private school and that it is zoned R-1. She said that accompanying the request was the intent to rezone the property to the city’s institutional zoning.

The application still anticipates the use of a private school, but any expansion of the existing school campus would need a conditional-use permit while still in the county’s jurisdiction.

“In the email that was included in the … application of the annexation, the representative for the applicant stated that annexation into the city might ease future expansion of the school,” Esswein said. “That was one of the reasons that they were petitioning.” 

Esswein said the county’s comprehensive plan does not contemplate the city’s institutional zoning as an appropriate zoning for the Sawnee Mountain Character Area.

She said that all commercial overlay should be located within a development node, designated commercial corridor or the Coal Mountain Overlay. The property in the annexation application was situated in none of those locations.

Because the board felt that the proposed land use did not “quite align” with the county’s plan for that area, commissioners objected to the annexation request.

The objection was approved with a 5-0 vote, and commissioners directed county staff to send a letter of objection to the city of Cumming.

While the county cannot stop the annexation process, the objection will obligate the city, if the annexation requested is approved by the Cumming City Council, to send the letter to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to set up an arbitration panel to mitigate the issues surrounding the annexation.