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What are the plans for this 54-acre annexation request?
Gateway at Lanier
Commissioners voted to object to the annexation request to develop Gateway Lanier, a mixed-use development on 54 acres of land east of Costco on Bald Ridge Marina Road.

Once again, Forsyth County Commissioners are raising concerns over an annexation request for a large parcel of land.

At a work session on Tuesday, commissioners heard an update from County Attorney Ken Jarrard on a request to annex 54 acres on Bald Ridge Marina Road into the city of Cumming for a development known as Gateway to Lanier. No action was taken at the meeting, and the item will come back to a future work session.

The property is across from Costco east of Bald Ridge Acres Drive. 

District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper said that six acres of the annexed area would have a commercial use and the rest would be multipurpose “with townhomes and apartments.”

“Here’s what concerns me: the development authority of the city, are they targeting property that is in the county… to expand their developmental plan?” said Cooper, who said one of the officials with the development was on the city’s development board.

The property is made of two tracts: a larger parcel, about 46 acres, zoned commercial business district (CBD) and a smaller parcel zoned lakeside residential (LR). If the annexation is approved, the land will be rezoned to annexed property (AP), a city zoning designation that means the property mimics the county zoning for a year.

Under state law, newly-annexed properties into the city are required to have a similar zoning to the one it had in the county for at least a year.

County leaders have long brought up concerns with the city’s AP zoning, one of several issues that have appeared over the last year or so between the city and county over annexation requests for large areas of land.

Two of the most recent annexation requests to come to the county were for 11 acres on Buford Highway for a Cadillac dealership and 151 acres on Market Place Boulevard for the proposed Westshore mixed-use development.

Other large recent annexations included about 12 acres on Dahlonega Highway behind the Forsyth County Board of Education building for a new project that will include a 1,800-seat performing arts center and three-story Academy for Creative Education, and about 114 acres on Pilgrim Road, which includes Sawnee View Memorial Garden.

Commissioners also brought up adding a discussion on annexations to an upcoming meeting between county and city leaders, where they will also be discussing impact fees (fees paid by developers for increased use of amenities) for the county’s library and fire department, which both serve the city.

“I’d like for the fire department to be prepared to talk about the burden and the cost that is associated with it and our libraries, so it can’t be labeled as being emotional or anything,” said District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills. “We need to talk facts … we’re looking right now to buy land for another fire station for the growth of the city.”

Chairwoman Laura Semanson said she wanted to know the city’s maximum height for buildings “because, at a certain height, we’re going to have to have another ladder truck.”

Commissioners also asked if the annexation would require changing the roundabout on Bald Ridge Marina or if the county would need to make any other improvements.

“We can’t condition the city to do anything,” said John Cunard, director of engineering. “The only thing they’ll have to permit through us is if they have to access off Bald Ridge Road and they don’t annex the other side of the road … We haven’t seen a concept, so we don’t know what they’re going to do.”