annexation bid

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners did not mince words in their opposition to the latest annexation request to cede land to Cumming for a commercial development.

At their Feb. 9 work session commissioners approved a formal letter opposing a request by Corridor Properties to annex two parcels totaling 21 acres along Antioch Road contiguous with two other tracts previously acquired by the City of Cumming. 

State law allows the county to oppose any annexation bid if it presents a significantly different land use or an increase in density or infrastructure demands. County officials are arguing the request presents all three issues.

Corridor Properties’ proposal would rezone the site from A1, agricultural district, to highway business designation to include a contractor business, including an office, shop and a storage yard for vehicles and equipment.

“This is the wrong product for the wrong place,” District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper, who represents the area, said.

The county’s letter argues the proposed development substantially alters the property’s current use, it does not comply with Forsyth County’s Unified Development Code and is inconsistent with its future land-use plan. It also states the county will still be charged with maintaining Antioch Road, and it was not designed to accommodate the vehicles the proposed business will use.

Cooper said the property sits within a residential zone, and the open storage of the business will be “visually offensive” to neighbors.

Commission Chair Cindy Jones Mills also had concerns of runoff into a creek on the property.

The county’s land use plan outlines that any future commercial development should be located within a node or the Coal Mountain Overlay, and the parcels being considered in the annexation are not, County Attorney Ken Jarrad said. The land use plan also directs that commercial uses outside of nodes should be limited to commercial corridors and at or adjacent to major intersections. The properties do not fit either of those criteria, he said.

It is unlikely the county’s opposition will stop the annexation, but it could make the development a bit more palatable to county officials.

Jarrard said with the county’s resistance, an arbitration panel will be formed and comprised of county and Cumming officials. But in most situations, he said, the panel is not established to stop annexation, rather, its aim is to mitigate the impacts of the land transfer.

The move sparked a larger conversation on how the county can inform homeowners about annexation requests in their area. Annexation proposals go through the City of Cumming’s public participation process, and Mills said nearby residents are unaware of the requests.

Mills suggested the county begin holding town hall meetings for all annexation requests, which could include information on prior cases and their impacts.

Board members also took the opportunity to throw a few jabs at Cumming.

Mills said the county attempted to begin talks with Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow about honoring Forsyth County’s land use plans with annexation requests, but those efforts “didn’t work out at all.”

Commissioner Laura Semanson said annexations weren’t an issue until recent elections, and they have been “rapid-fire” ever since. They also allow developers to skirt regulations Forsyth County residents asked the board to create, she said.

“This is such an unbalanced system, and it does not serve the people,” Semanson said.

The latest annexation request is one of over half a dozen that have come before the board in recent years, and several have been met with opposition from the county.

In 2020, Forsyth County fielded annexation requests for approximately 11 acres of Buford Highway to make way for a Cadillac dealership and for 54 acres east of Cumming’s city limits near Lake Lanier.

Joe Parker is an Editor with Appen Media Group and covers Milton, Forsyth County and high school sports.

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