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Forsyth County votes to oppose annexation for planned mixed-use development

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County commissioners voted Sept. 21 to oppose another in a series of annexation requests into the City of Cumming.

Commissioners said a proposal by Gateway to Lanier to have 54 acres along Bald Ridge Acres Drive annexed into the city would run counter to the county’s Comprehensive Plan because of its proposed use. The site lies between Watercrest Drive to the north and Bald Ridge Marina Road on the south.

The request includes two parcels, one currently zoned for lake residential, the other zoned for commercial. Plans call for changing the zoning to Planned Unit Development-mixed use, a special category that allows greater flexibility for development of a property.

The proposal calls for construction of a mixed-use development that would include 312 multi-family units, 77 single family units, 51 townhomes and 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

County Planning Department staff pointed out that the residential density called for in the plan — 8.24 units per acre — exceeds the current 6 units per acre density allowed under the county’s zoning.

Forsyth County OKs mixed development near Ga. 400

The county does make density allowances for certain types of senior housing developments, but the Gateway to Lanier proposal makes no mention of senior exclusivity, county officials said.

Over the past three years, the City of Cumming has annexed more than 502 acres from Forsyth County in 15 separate filings. The acquisitions have given rise to some heated exchanges between the county and the city.

Although the City of Cumming has yet to consider this latest proposal, county officials say they want to formally notify the Georgia Department of Community Affairs of their opposition.

Under Georgia law, a county can oppose an annexation if it can show there will be a substantial change in the intensity of the allowable use of the property, if it will significantly increase the net cost of infrastructure or if it differs substantially from the existing uses suggested for the property by the county’s comprehensive land use plan.

Commission Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills said she had spoken with Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow earlier in the day and was told that the city would likely not support the annexation.

Commissioner Laura Semanson wasn’t taking any chances.

“We can’t rely on what we may be hearing or not hearing,” she said. “Ultimately, they make their own decision, but I think we need to move forward with our letter rather than trying to guess what they’re going to do.”

Commissioner Molly Cooper said she’s been following this particular item for about a year, and she’s glad to see it losing steam. With the City of Cumming’s possible concurrence, she said she sees hope in improving relations on annexation matters.

“We’re working kind of with the city on saving that which is the best, saving our parcels for the best usage inside the county,” she said.

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