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Forsyth County denies bid to expand cricket fields

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — In a unanimous decision Sept. 16, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners denied pending requests to expand The Fields at Keith Bridge, an outdoor facility just south of Millwood Road.

Commissioners voted down the proposal 5-0 after hearing from local homeowners in the area and stakeholders for the project by the Atlanta Cricket Fields.

The proposal, presented by attorney Ethan Underwood, would have added a cricket practice field to a 7.3-acre portion of the facility’s northwestern edge and would be used for children’s cricket practice.

Underwood said their plans go against the property’s original conditional use permit, which prohibits athletic fields being built within 450 feet of Cantrell Circle, a nearby street.

“It doesn’t say ‘concession stand,’ it doesn’t say ‘training facilities,’ it doesn’t say the property cannot be used, it just says athletic fields,” Underwood said. “Our clients are victims of their own success, they’ve had a lot of folks go out there, and now they’re looking to put in fields for training children’s fields. We think this is a change that would benefit everyone and have less impact.”

Originally, the plan called for two practice fields that would have taken up most of the 7.3-acres, but Underwood said they trimmed the plan to one field after working with local homeowners.

Underwood argued they received multiple letters of support from surrounding property owners and the proposal is a good compromise for what each side wants.

“This proposal is the middle-ground proposal,” he said. “We got the consent from the folks who are most affected by that.”

But two speakers representing the Wild Rose subdivision, which lies to the north of the cricket fields, said the expansion proposal was anything but middle-ground.

Liana Hall, a member of the Wild Rose HOA board, said 86 percent of homeowners opposed the expansion, according to a recent survey completed by the association.

“The reason why people are moving into our neighborhood is because they enjoy being out in the country, they love the larger lot sizes and the peaceful neighborhood,” Hall said. “The neighbors heard about this amendment and said, ‘No, it is already too much noise.’ If we had a way to push the fields back further, we would.”

After hearing from both sides on the proposal, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she appreciates the cricket fields and everything they do for the community, but couldn’t go against the property’s original conditions, without support from the surrounding community.

“I enjoy working with the cricket fields so much, I think that they are providing a great service to the county,” she said. “But it was an original condition.”

Despite requesting denial, Mills said in the future she would like to see public cricket fields added to a local park when they have space.

Reach Alexander Popp at 770-847-7404. Follow him on Twitter @Popp2Alex.