Forsyth County government officials are taking a new approach to selling about 34 acres of county-owned land on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
At a special called meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2, members of the Forsyth County Development Authority voted to approve an agreement with commissioners to allow the authority to sell 33.8 acres of property on Veterans Memorial Boulevard across the road from Amos Drive.
David Seago, chairman of the development authority, said this would be the first attempt for the authority to take on this kind of project.
“Some weeks ago, the commissioners approached the development authority about the possibility of them conveying the property to the development authority for the purpose of selling the property for development,” Seago said.
Forsyth County purchased the property in July 2007, before any current commissioners were on the board, as a possible location for a new jail, which would eventually be built in downtown Cumming.
In 2008, residents voted against a bond referendum that would have paid for the project. Previous plans have been floated to use the land as industrial flex space or for a county government use but did not become a reality.
Seago said the development authority does not have to follow the same restrictions as commissioners, such as not having to accept the highest-value bid and take unsolicited proposals.
He said the proposal would be “a chance for the development authority to be a little bit more creative and do something a little different than what we’ve done.”
“The other thing is, last, but not least, it might give us a chance to make a little money, where we can use that money for future economic development endeavors.”
Seago said though early in the process, there were already “10 developers chomping at the bit.”
While the property is owned by the county, it is within the city limits and will need approval from the Cumming City Council.
“It’s very important because it has to be rezoned in the city, and it looks like the [planned unit development] zoning is probably what this needs to fall under,” Seago said. “It’s not zoned that today, so the city is a very key player in this, and they kind of know what they want.”
District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper said she has spoken with city leaders about the project and was hopeful the process would benefit the county financially and give the city a valuable development, especially since the land is near the planned Mashburn Village mixed-use development and a planned extension of Buford Dam Road to connect with Veterans Memorial.
“As far as I’m concerned, I think the important, main thing is to get some financial return on this money,” Cooper said, “and, as far as what goes there, I see that as it is in the city limits, it is up to the city council and the mayor to give the OK or denial and for us to work with them.”