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What commissioners had to say about this 54-acre annexation request
Gateway at Lanier
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.

Forsyth County Commissioners are pushing back against an annexation request for more than 50 acres on Bald Ridge Marina Road.

Commissioners did not formally object or give no objection to a request to annex 54 acres on Bald Ridge Marina Road into the city of Cumming for a development known as Gateway to Lanier. Instead, they approved a resolution saying that the application was “tendered by a non-existent entity” and was inconsistent with state law.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said he was unable to find records of Gateway to Lanier, LLC, the company requesting the annexation, 

“I did, in fact, find an entity that had reserved a name to become that corporation in late 2019, but my review of the secretary of state's records indicated that that name reservation expired on Dec. 25 of 2019,” he said. 

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.

Since it was introduced last year, county leaders have had issues with the AP zoning, feeling that is intended to sidestep zoning rules.

“I do not believe the AP zoning designation is, in my respectful submission, satisfactory to tell the board of commissioners what is truly intended on this piece of property for a variety of reasons,” Jarrard said.

Jarrard said it was clear the land-use would change because plans showed a commercial use for the residential portion of the property and the larger portion was planned for “a mix of uses.”

“How in the world can we make a determination as to whether it's going to put an infrastructure load on the county, where it's going to be a significant increase in the intensity or density of land use on the property when we don't have any idea what the intended land-use is?" Jarrard said.

He said action from the county was possible at a future meeting.

Chairwoman Laura Semanson took it step further calling the AP zoning “deceptive.”

“These continual zonings coming under this AP category is just deceptive,” she said.

Commissioners have also raised issues over the last year or so about annexations.

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.