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Forsyth Co. activists on out-of-control growth and gridlock

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Forsyth Co. activists on out-of-control growth and gridlock

Postby Nydia Tisdale » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:40 pm

Ethan Underwood
Focus on Forsyth

A Response to Demand Letter by Activist Organizations
CummingHome.com

We are fortunate to live in an area that is growing and has rising property values. Most communities are jealous of the growth Forsyth County enjoys and the jobs it provides to builders, bankers, architects, engineers, plumbers, AC crews, landscapers, and myriad other professionals....

Like · · Follow Post · Share · October 16 at 12:40pm near Cumming.

Gary Cooper likes this..

Mark Weiss Ethan if we increase Impact Fees we will no longer needs SPLOTS and there will be a onetime tax for County and Schools property. This would save Tax payers millions dollars mostly on fees and interests.

October 16 at 12:51pm · Like..

Isaac Lang Ethan don't you work for a law firm that specializes in zoning changes? Your comment is like a farmer being advised by the fox on which type of security to use in the hen house.

October 16 at 1:10pm via mobile · Like..

Isaac Lang You have a conflict of interest financially.

October 16 at 1:11pm via mobile · Like..

Joseph Harry Moore In Ethan's response we are experiencing a microcosm of what happens at the Federal level. A campaigner runs on promises to win and then governs by pressures of activist organizations, i.e. Ethan Underwood/Forsyth HOA Group. For Ethan to ignore the the Demand letter possible momentum might be gained by that group.

October 16 at 1:14pm · Like..

Bradley J Wilkins Ethan has a right to his opinion, just like everyone else.

As editor of CummingHome.com, I was glad to publish his letter. I was also glad to publish one from the other side of the debate last week.

The discussion of how our community deals with growth is too important to ignore. I say, let the best ideas rise to the top, but do not attack the messengers.

October 16 at 1:47pm · Like · 5..

Isaac Lang No one is saying he doesn't. When one makes a living driving nails, the world is all about a nail and hammer. It is good to look outside that realm and listen for other opinions every now and then.

October 16 at 2:00pm · Edited · Like · 2..

Julie Dunning Tressler Just because Ethan works in the industry does not invalidate his knowledge or his opinion...in fact, quite the opposite! He has a very in-depth understanding of the process and reasonable people on both sides would do well to hear what he has to say. He lives, works, raises children and volunteers in this community and is every bit as much a stakeholder as anyone else with an opinion. Thank you, Ethan, for your educated and informed perspective on this controversial issue.

October 16 at 1:59pm · Like · 3..

Joseph Harry Moore I don't have a problem with the messenger but I do have a problem with the message. As long as government has the last vote on the use of land and elected officials choose to accept campaign contributions in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars their votes will be questionable. "by stigmatizing developers" taken from Ethan's letter should not happen but does because it appears that greed and excess profits drive a zoning in some cases rather than a desirable and quality of life issue. Some years ago I served on a select committee for a long range master plan that would serve to guide future development and eliminate such incongruities. Too often this effort seems to get ignored.

October 16 at 2:20pm · Like..

Isaac Lang Well, we are zoning today two to four years out based on water from Lake Lanier. We are also presently under water restrictions. Julie Dunning Tressler you are a realtor right, or did you loan out your password to someone else? You have a similar conflict of interest that Ethan does.

WATER RESTRICTION INFORMATION

October 16 at 2:31pm via mobile · Edited · Like..

Isaac Lang Restrict zoning to RES1 and disconnect the water and sewer umbilical. It will be better for Forsyth County and Lake Lanier.

October 16 at 2:34pm · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler Isaac Lang, why on earth would I loan my password out to someone else and what is that supposed to mean?? I don't have a conflict of interest. I didn't even express an opinion on the subject---only said Ethan has a right to express his. And yes, I am a Realtor®. So what? I am also a business owner, taxpayer, stakeholder, mom, volunteer, and staunch conservative with a lot invested in this community. I believe in a free market and less government intrusion into our lives and I'm a strong advocate for property owner rights as any TRUE conservative should be. Add to all that the fact that I also LIVE here and I guess that would give me more of an interest in it than you, wouldn't it?

October 16 at 2:52pm · Like..

Isaac Lang Because sometimes you sound just like a county commissioner. Of course I know you are not.

October 16 at 2:55pm · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler Why? Because I'm a woman I must get my opinions from somewhere else? Not capable of having my own? You don't know me very well. I've been playing this game a long time. Maybe some of the county commissioners sound like me? Ever think of that?

October 16 at 2:59pm · Like..

Isaac Lang No, realtors work with builders and developers. They have a financial interest in building more homes. The more developers and builders a realtor is connected with the more listings and commissions.

October 16 at 3:08pm via mobile · Like..

Isaac Lang So far we have had a zoning lawyer and realtor occupying the majority of comments on a zoning thread. Does that tell anyone anything about financial interest in this topic? Sure it does, or surely you don't take us all for naive naves?

October 16 at 3:14pm via mobile · Like..

Ethan Underwood I'd argue I'm probably the most unbiased person to discuss this issue, because the harder the county makes it to develop, the more my services are needed. However, I don't want to profit from bad policy. I want to see problems solved without destroying the rights of landowners.

October 16 at 3:15pm via mobile · Like · 3..

Isaac Lang Ethan Underwood I will guess you do more work for the developers than former property owners. Developers buy the property with a condition it is rezoned. Once rezoned, the land sale is completed. You know that and so do I.

October 16 at 3:18pm · Like..

Greg Dolezal Mr. Underwood, what are the problems that you believe need to be solved? I didn't see any mention of that in your letter, sounded like things are all roses right now except for the hair brained ideas of these activists.

October 16 at 3:20pm · Like..

Isaac Lang i bet if I look up all the last 100 zoning request, a developer's name will be on it or an LLC that the developers formed to hide who they actually are. One local PO Box must have 25 LLCs mail going to it and some you are the agent for... Right?

October 16 at 3:21pm · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler And what is your interest, Isaac, considering you don't even live in this state? Actually, I work mostly with consumers, not developers. I'm not allowed to have an opinion or earn a living now either? Nice. I hope you don't ever refer to yourself as a conservative.

October 16 at 3:23pm · Like..

Isaac Lang Isaac Lang There is nothing wrong with being a zoning lawyer, but it would have been nice if you had made that known along with your law firm's name in your editorial in CummingHome. You do have an interest in development and the more development, the better the income in my opinion.

October 16 at 3:27pm · Like..

Tom Page I couldn't be more pleased that these issues are receiving the amount of visibility they are, the breadth of opinions from both sides and emotional response to boot. It highlights that the issue of growth in our beautiful county is of paramount importance.

October 16 at 3:29pm · Like · 5..

Isaac Lang Well, I have grown up in the county and still own property here too.

October 16 at 3:29pm via mobile · Like..

Isaac Lang Julie Dunning Tressler, you are untitled to you opinion just like everyone else, but you should qualify your opinion based on your financial relationship with developers and builders. You have a dog in the fight and most reading these comments don't have that relationship nor do they know who you are.

October 16 at 3:36pm via mobile · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler Everyone has a dog in the fight, Isaac. I hate to confuse the issue with facts for you but managed growth and development is good for more than just Realtors and lawyers. By your standards, every business owner in Forsyth County would have a conflict of interest. For each home sold in a community there is $60K of ancillary $$ put back into the local economy for goods and services. Everyone benefits. Ask Detroit. Does it need to be well managed and planned??? Yes, absolutely. But we don't want to stop it. If you do own property here, then being in a thriving area increases, not decreases, the value of your property. Had you tried to sell your property in the past few years before things picked up again, you would have been out of luck. You might want to be careful what you wish for. When development wasn't thriving here, not much else was either.

October 16 at 3:40pm · Like..

Robert Slaughter Ms. Tressler -- I would respectfully ask that you (and Ethan) re-read the six point Pledge. No one is advocating stopping development. We are advocating restoring balance to the process. What we advocate will not harm the "thriving development" here -- it will only raise the bar -- which will be better for landowners as well in terms of the return on their property.

October 16 at 3:43pm · Like · 4..

Julie Dunning Tressler And again, I don't work much with builders and developers. I work mostly with the average Joe. If you sat around as many kitchen tables as I have in the past few years with distraught homeowners about to lose their homes in foreclosure or short sales, completely upside down in the value of their homes and wondering where in the heck they were going to go, you might feel differently. It was painful for everyone. Not just Realtors.

October 16 at 3:44pm · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler I don't have a problem with that, Bob, and I'm not necessarily on the opposite side from you guys. I believe in managed growth, as most people in my industry do when we're not being painted as the bad guys and are allowed a seat at the table. But Isaac is calling for RES1. Seriously?

October 16 at 3:48pm · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Mr. Underwood, with all due respect... you live in a large home on 2.5 acres that backs up to a 3.8 acre lot. There is nothing around you that is high density. If you admire high density so much... why aren't you enjoying it yourself?

October 16 at 3:51pm · Like..

Greg Dolezal I tried to post this as a comment to the actual article, but am having technical difficulties.

    Mr. Underwood,

    Thank you for your response to the Pledge for Balanced Growth. Your opinion is valuable as your law firm represents most of the developers currently seeking to rezone land in the County and we need to work together to make sure all sides are represented well.

    I regret your attempt to begin this effort contains misrepresentation and name calling.

    Most homeowners are feeling the burden of the zoning practices of the past, and agree that we need to see improvements. Our current over crowded roads and schools are evidence we need to take a close look at how we are managing growth. I submit for your review one marker of the result of the "good planning and effective methods of achieving infrastructure improvements" you believe has been achieved:



    Most people would agree there is a difference between smart growth and growth that produces situations like the video above. We all need to work together to make sure Forsyth County does not lose is charm, beauty, and level of service to residents. Misrepresenting and name calling is not going to help that goal become reality, and in light of that, its necessary to set the record straight on a few things in your letter.

    Restrictions on Zoning Applications. You incorrectly state that we desire to limit applications only to large-lot categories. The 5/1 plan we proposed requests to limit zonings to five applications per month, and one application per district. This includes Res3 requests, which are less than 1/4 of an acre, hardly a "large lot".

    Currently, there are 20 residential rezoning requests in the county, and there is zero balance. All of these are south of SR20, and 95% of these are on lots less than 1/5 of an acre. We have an imbalance in density diversity and distribution throughout the County. It is impossible for Commissioners to properly evaluate each and every one of these requests at the current velocity and make a proper determination on the impact on roads, schools, and water/sewer all while digesting the variance request often accompanying the applicaiton.

    The County has had monthly limitations before and we are suggesting we return to that methodology. It did not hurt the County then, and it would not now.

    Given the influx and preponderance of high density applications stated above, we proposed no limit on Res 1 (less than 1 acre lot) and Res 2 (less than 1/2 acre lot) to encourage some lower density zoning. We believe this would a wise, proactive step to encourage balance in a current out of balance situation. I do not believe most homeowners will consider Res2, with less than 1/2 acre lots, to be a "large lot zoning category".

    Impact Fees. Some of what you say here is true and you raise valid points. We need a proper study on this issue. What is interesting is some surrounding jurisdictions have chosen impact fees for roads, so it appears not to be as black and white as you believe. My opinion is the County would benefit more from a $1k per home road impact fee, for example, in a 250 home development than the 2 turn lanes and right of way they are currently receiving.

    Density Calculation: This proposal is an attempt to label flood plain, stream buffers, etc as exactly what they are--unbuildable. Pretend for a moment I am selling 100 acres to a developer, and 90 of those acres are in the 100 year flood plain. Of course, the developer is going to pay me less for this land because most of it is unusable for building under the law. We propose the same thing for the density calculation--a true look at the land's characteristics and a more informed density calculation recognize all acreage is not equal. Every site plan will contain this data and and adjusting the algorithm is simple math.

    Regarding your poor analogy about "government telling you that you can only use 75% of your bank account", government already is telling the builders they cannot build on that land, and you know that. We are simply saying do not use that land to artificially illustrate a lower density than actually exists. Our letter never asked them to "hold the land for the greater good", and you know this too.

    I find it interesting you ignore the variance request in the Pledge for Balanced Growth. Variances: Many of the zoning applications include a request to place all of the homes in a community X feet part. Often X is 11', 13', or 15' feet. Most homeowners have told us they believe this is too close and not the kind of development we want in the County.

    According to the UCD, a variance is a relaxing of the code "based on showing that a special unique circumstances exist on a subject property, such as physical surroundings, shape or size, or topographical conditions, and that due to such special or unique circumstances, compliance would result in extraordinary and unnecessary hardship or practical difficulty or an inability to meet policies and objectives" (emphasis added). What we are seeing with these requests however, is boiler plate language from developers to place homes 11' apart without any proven hardship or circumstances. We asked that all variances be measured and proven, and stand by this request as logical and sound.

    In the end, we agree that good planning is needed as well as infrastructure improvements. Where we disagree is the notion that we have seen good planning in the County or that the infrastructure is anywhere near adequate for the kind of zoning we see on the current landscape. We welcome dialogue with your law firm and your developer clients to ensure Forsyth County maintains all of the great things we love about it for generations to come.

    Greg Dolezal
    Forsyth County Home Owner, Business Owner, and apparently an Activist

October 16 at 3:53pm · Like · 2..

Tom Page We named it "The Pledge for Balanced Growth" for a reason. Imbalanced = All RES 4 Residential and above with undefendable and across-the-board variance requests that force the community to fight every single rezoning; Balanced = strategically TIMED development of residential AND commercial at density levels consistent with the character of our community and in a way that doesn't FORCE the burden of over-development squarely on the homeowners so that developers and landowners maximize profit.

October 16 at 3:55pm · Like · 1..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Yes Julie Dunning Tressler - RES1 is a perfect zoning density... Ethan thinks so... He lives on a RES1... Actually it is way less dense that RES1. 2.5 acres.

October 16 at 8:32pm · Edited · Like..

Stacy Lee Guy Forsyth should charge an impact fee comparable to surrounding cities and counties. And there is nothing to prevent the county from waiving an impact fee if the developer donates ROW or something else. Other municipalities do this all the time.

October 16 at 4:01pm · Like · 2..

Stacy Lee Guy And secondly, I believe the county should change residential zoning categories away from density-based classifications towards something based on minimum lot size. Take the math out of the equation so that wetlands, buffers and other non-buildable land don't skew the numbers.

October 16 at 4:03pm · Like · 2..

Julie Dunning Tressler I guess that's his choice, Kristen Gailey Stevens. I don't see anything wrong with that. You have that option in Forsyth County as well. I only have a 1/2 acre but I chose a neighborhood with no HOA because I prefer that. We're all free to choose. A lot of people choose high density, which is evidenced by the fact that those homes sell...quickly. I can't explain it. I wouldn't live in South Forsyth on a bet so I don't know what to tell you.

October 16 at 4:03pm · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler Which subdivision are you in, Kristen Gailey Stevens? What is your density there?

October 16 at 4:05pm · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens 1/2 to 1 acre lots. Summerwind.

October 16 at 4:07pm via mobile · Like..

Isaac Lang Seriously RES1. No dependence on the Lake or the County or the City for water or sewer. Nothing wrong with one house per acre. It is where we all want to live. Look the county has surplus homes now with 30 percent of homes in Forsyth County being upside down according to the latest Zillow study why build more? I can tell you why, because smaller homes sell. Developers are hot on building the small homes, but with that comes dependence on Lake Lanier and the Government's sewer. We still have water restrictions. What will happen five years from now with a major drought? What about highways? What about schools? We don't want to live in crowded Fulton, Cobb or Gwinnett counties, but that is where Forsyth is headed.
The U.S. Housing Crisis: Where are home loans underwater?

October 16 at 4:10pm · Edited · Like · 1..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Houses sell in a day here. So big market for larger lot sizes too. Plus less strain on the infrastructure and environment.

October 16 at 4:10pm via mobile · Like..

Julie Dunning Tressler Yes, in SF there's a market for about any sized lot and everything is selling quickly. Great for your values down there! I'm so happy we're not seeing short sales anymore! I saw so many families devastated by that and SF was hit hard by them.

October 16 at 4:14pm · Like..

Isaac Lang South Forsyth is much better than north Forsyth as far as homes being under water.

October 16 at 4:15pm · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens We only had one short sale in my hood. People were lining up to buy it. Not much inventory in larger lot sizes.

October 16 at 4:20pm via mobile · Like · 1..

Julie Dunning Tressler That's good! You were lucky!

October 16 at 4:21pm · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens There is a ton of inventory not selling in small lot sizes down here. New home lots sitting vacant.

October 16 at 4:23pm via mobile · Like · 1..

Greg Dolezal Mr. Ethan Underwood "I'd argue I'm probably the most unbiased person to discuss this issue, because the harder the county makes it to develop, the more my services are needed." Is your assertion here that you would have MORE work if the County went back to a limited amount of zonings per month? Therefore, you have less work when zonings are unlimited?

October 16 at 4:44pm · Like..

Isaac Lang I wish all our planning and zoning board members would watch the Mullinax Rd traffic video linked above in this thread. Do we really want to see any more roads like Mullinax? Commissioners need to watch it too.

October 16 at 4:52pm via mobile · Like · 1..

Isaac Lang Mullinax Traffic 10/15/13, YouTube

October 16 at 4:57pm via mobile · Like · 1..

Brant Meadows Kristen Gailey Stevens, Julie Dunning Tressler What is driving the intense desire to live in southeast Forsyth?

October 16 at 5:12pm · Like..

Jody Moses I'm paying attention!

October 16 at 5:35pm · Like · 1..

Greg Dolezal Isaac, check this out. FORSYTH CO. GROWTH AND TRAFFIC, Fox 5 News

October 16 at 5:41pm · Like..

Joseph Harry Moore Brant, I am not Kristen nor Julie, but may I tell you why I am passionate about SF? I love our S/D, the close proximity to great shopping, good schools, good restaurants, beauty all around, low density zonings with lots of green space, and a great multi-cultural population.

October 16 at 5:42pm · Like · 7..

Claudia Gamlien-Castro I think it's all those things that Joseph mentioned, plus the proximity to Johns Creek, Emory Hospital and all the medical facilities associated therewith. It's a natural progession to go from what was once Duluth unincorporated N. Fulton and cross the line (McGinnis Ferry) into South Forsyth. Their schools were and are where lots of people wanted to be - Northview, Chattahoochee - now they have the new Johns Creek HS which opened at the same time as Lambert. It's a wonderful area with access to the employment centers, highways and diverse dining!

October 16 at 5:52pm · Like..

Jody Moses Greg Dolezal, Good Grief! Your video reminds me of a quote from Jerry Clower's (a great American) coon hunting story. "Somebody shoot up in here amongst us, one of us has got to have some releif." Here's the whole story ~ Jerry Clower - A Coon Huntin Story, YouTube

October 16 at 5:54pm · Like · 1..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Not just southeast Brant Meadows- South period. - Schools proximity to 400 - green space.

October 16 at 6:03pm · Like..

Jody Moses AN OPEN GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL: I am pushing hard to have rezoning applicants fill out and sign an affidavit (this is required by many counties) delineating the names of those who are actually involved in the sale and development of property in Forsyth County. If passed, corperations will be required by the affidavit to list their owners, executives, major stockholders, etc. We do not have this requirement in the UDC at this time. This is being done to open up the process so that those voting on the applications will know all of the parties involved and prevent them from unknowingly casting a vote for or against a rezoning in which they may have a conflict of interest. Thus, possibly preventing the process from starting all over, at great expense the county and applicant. I have been directed by the planning commission to meet with our county attorney for the purpose of drawing up a properly worded proposal to present at the November work session of the planning commission. This should officially start the process for changing the UDC in order to make the rezoning process more transparent. If this passes the planning commission, it will then be sent to the BOC. For the life of me, I can't comprehend why any commissioners would be opposed this change to the UDC since it would protect our county and officials from conflict of interest votes. In my opinion, the votes on this proposal will separate those in favor of more open government from those opposed. I hope that each of you will make your voices heard to the planning commission and the BOC concerning this important issue.

October 16 at 10:54pm · Edited · Like · 4..

Kristen Gailey Stevens and which commissioners got campaign contributions from them, por favor?

October 16 at 7:07pm · Like..

Brant Meadows Kristen Gailey Stevens, North Forsyth county also has green space and GA 400 proximity. I believe schools are and have been the driving force behind the intense desire to live in south Forsyth County.

October 16 at 7:11pm · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Brant Meadows When I moved here there were two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school south of 20 and east of 400. South Forsyth High School is so old, my neighbor who is in her mid-forties went there when it was a middle school. And it wasn't brand new back then. The school is still the top performer in the county... because of the staff/administration/parents. Another reason many of us cannot live in North Forsyth is because of business travel. It is further from the airport ... One hour is all we can stand. Plus further from restaurants, concerts, sporting events ...

October 16 at 7:26pm · Like · 3..

Jody Moses Almost forgot!! ~ The planning commission also agreed with me to add a discussion, "tweeking the comprehensive plan", to the January work session agenda. DCA rules state that "Maintenance of the comprehensive plan includes plan amendments and regular [annual] updates of the plan".

October 16 at 10:00pm · Edited · Like · 2..

David Milum I'd be moderately satisfied if all members would actually recognize and respect the fact that a Master Plan actually exists. For years, since the inception of a Master Plan, it's been similar to having nice new set of dishes hidden in the cupboard but some still feed development from a trough.

October 17 at 12:12am · Like · 1..

Robert Slaughter Julie, it sounds like you are ready to take the Pledge then!? That would be awesome.

October 17 at 9:11am · Like..

Jody Moses Julie Dunning Tressler; "And again, I don't work much with builders and developers. I work mostly with the average Joe. If you sat around as many kitchen tables as I have in the past few years with distraught homeowners about to lose their homes in foreclosure or short sales, completely upside down in the value of their homes and wondering where in the heck they were going to go, you might feel differently. It was painful for everyone. Not just Realtors." ********************************************************* As I am sure you realize, the reason for most of the short sales, upside down mortgages, and forclosures can be traced to the lack of regulation and oversight of the banking system. Especially the banks here in Georgia, which was overseen by the Chairman of the State Senate Banking Committee, and the Chairman of the Senate Panel for Banking Law Regulation and Modification. The duties of which include: jurisdictions of financial institutions, real property finance, and corporate securities law. As an example, Integrity Bank, a Faith Based bank created in 2000 that featured copies of the Ten Commandments in all its branches, was the first and largest bank failure in Georgia in 2008 with approximately $211 million dollars in FDIC claims. Georgia then took the national lead in 2008 for failed banks. This laissez-faire attitude of banking officials in regard to their duty to protect the public gave rise to much speculation and overstatement of realestate values. The outcome of all of this lead to your "average Joe" being skewered on the politicians grill once again. As of mid-2011 there were no investigations into why Georgia's banks were failing at a greater rate than any state.

October 17 at 1:32pm · Edited · Like..

Justin Hawkins I have been a resident of Forsyth County for nearly 14 years and have lived in South Forsyth that entire time. There are three main reasons why zonings should not be limited to a certain number per month. The First reason is there have only been a total of 16 zonings approved to date this year. That is obviously less than two zonings per month. All other projects were approved previously and are just getting started. The second point one has to realize is neighborhoods like Aberdeen, Old Atlanta Club, Three Chimneys, Windermere and many others were built over 13 years ago some like Aberdeen and Old Atlanta Club were approved in the early 90's. The lot sizes in Our community then were substantially cheaper than they are today. That automatically affects and pushes developers and builders going after smaller lot sizes, especially during this slow recovery. Also because of the economic meltdown houses in Laurel Springs and many others are not in demand simply because people are downsizing. If you do not trust my word look up online how long houses in Laurel Springs have sat on the market compared to others that are in the price rage of 200k-300k. Or compare neighborhoods in the price rages of Laurel Springs to others and explain why more houses in the 450-700k+ are being foreclosed than any other price rage. Lastly the County government will simply halt projects that are asking for Res 1 and Res 2 because of the sewer and water bonds. They will not allow neighborhoods with septics because than we will not be able to pay back our bonds. The Only other option is to raise our water and sewer bills significantly. On the last note growth has produced a magnificent benefit for anyone who bought a house in the early 2000's. People who bought in the early 2000's for example in Three Chimneys bought there house in the high 200k. Now they are selling well in the 400k's. I know most of you all say you are for balanced growth and not zero growth but limiting zonings now would be devastating for our County especially during these rough economic times. We live in a conservative pro business community that encourages free market development.

October 17 at 1:18pm via mobile · Like..

Greg Dolezal Justin,

If the zonings are low now, why would limiting them be a problem? If we only have 2 a month right now, why are you opposed to a 5 per month cap?

Res2 can be on sewer. You state the County will halt these projects because they need the money, but then argue for free market development.

You state the lot prices are higher today than they were 13 years ago so builders need smaller lots. However, you later state home prices have doubled since then, and somehow conclude that builders need to build lower priced homes on smaller lots. This does is not a logical conclusion from your data points.

I suspect most homes sold in the 200-300 range are a break even (at best) cash flow proposition for the County. In some cases they are a negative cash flow endeavor. See this study for Athen-Clarke County: The Local Government Fiscal Impacts of Land Uses in Athens-Clarke County.
I have asked our Commissioners to commission a study using Forsyth's numbers so we can accurately understand our own break even point.

If we need high density growth to pay a sewer bond, that is a problem that needs to be addressed separately rather than by allowing high density growth. Making bad decisions based on debt is not exactly a conservative principle either.

Would you mind sharing the source for the assertion that "more houses in the 450-700k+ are being foreclosed than any other price rage". Homes in the 500-700 range are selling just fine. Reference Vickery Springs off Post Road, which has the highest priced new construction in the Post corridor and is selling often before construction is complete.

October 17 at 2:01pm · Edited · Like · 1..

Isaac Lang Justin Hawkins, 30% of all homes in Forsyth County are under water according to Zillow's latest numbers. A higher percentage is in the northern part of the county above highway 20. More zoning for high density is not the answer. The answer is a more viberent economy which won't come soon enough. It won't happen until the next Presidential Election.

Right now Forsyth County is reported by Forbes Magazine to be the seventh fastest growing counties in the US.

It is fastest growing because of zoning for high density based on county water and sewer; zoning approved four to six years ago and just not being built out due to the great recession which is not over.

This type growth is not good for our county because of all the increase in population associated with high density. It does nothing for homes under water.

High density depends on more water from Lake Lanier and increased traffic plus it puts pressure on schools. We have a lake that has been full for the past ten months. Just two years ago we could not get enough water from the lake and had to ask for an increase during a drought. That will come again.

October 17 at 2:21pm · Edited · Like · 1..

Matthew Broms Once again we hear the same fear mongering about septic bonds. Why? Because it's from the same source. Like Ethan Underwood, Justin Hawkins conveniently leaves out the pivotal aspect that he is employed by Lipscomb and Associates - the hired legal guns that nearly all developers use in Forsyth to have their way with our Board of Commissioners. Perhaps even more than builders themselves since they represent an entire pool of them, there is no organization with more bias against The Pledge for Balanced Growth than them. I don't actually have a problem with this bias as long as they'd at least be honest and up front about who they are vs. trying to appear like an independent, alternative viewpoint.

Now to the facts. Homes in the $600's are selling like hotcakes off Post Rd in Vickery Springs as Greg mentioned. These are RES2 and ALL are on septic. And guess what - there's only about 10-15 left so when the last one goes, there's not a single other subdivision around here building homes like these to satisfy this demand. Similarly there's not a single Res1 available or coming either so demand for that has to turn to Milton and we lose them. If it's so dire here as he makes it out to be, then why in the world are so many developers scrambling to be here and homes selling so quickly? That just doesn't make sense. What does make sense though is this law firm isn't paid to care about balance or traffic. They're paid to pack in the homes by their clients.

It's pure speculation to assume any Res1 or Res2 will automatically go septic when it's so abundantly available in Forsyth. It's a very week argument. Sewer is nearly always preferred to septic when it's easily available, so there's no way anyone can conclude developments like these would not utilize it when Forsyth is all to glad to bring it to them. Again, my Res2 subdivision of 94 homes when built out is all sewer, which flies in the face of their assumption. So is everything along Post, Mullinax, and nearly everything below Hwy. 20. Folks in these homes use plenty of water too taking care of their large lawns, swimming pools, etc. to help pay that bond. Even if they used less water that would be great considering we're almost always in a water shortage and have usage restrictions. Furthermore, until the last year or two there hasn't been much building since the downturn in 2006, yet it was not "disastrous" for us (they both even use the same scare term). I didn't notice anything disastrous, did you? Where do they get this stuff? It's obvious The Pledge for Balanced Growth causes them concern when they resort to trying to scare us.

The only thing that is truly and obviously scary to you and I right now are the huge number of rezoning signs posted all over our area (not one of them is less than a Res3), the massive amount of traffic we face every single day, and our over-crowded schools, with solutions being many years away and more high-density subdivisions barreling down at us to add insult to injury. That's not assumption, that's fact and I can definitely see the true "disaster" in this.

I wonder how many more of this law firms minions will be posting? Clearly we have their attention, even with these empty attacks. I don't mean to be insulting because I honestly welcome good debate, but I abhor deceitfulness and fear mongering.

October 17 at 4:21pm · Edited · Like · 4..

Kristen Gailey Stevens Justin Hawkins Bugs me when lawyers and their clerks try to mislead people. Reminds me of sitting

October 17 at 4:37pm via mobile · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens ... In a public participation meeting. RES1and RES2 can both be on sewer, and actually require smaller lot sizes.

October 17 at 4:40pm via mobile · Like..

Kristen Gailey Stevens According to Ethan Underwood people who are moving to these lots have larger families.... so more sewer usage.... Eh?

October 17 at 4:43pm via mobile · Edited · Like..

Tom Page Justin Hawkins: Regarding how long homes sit on the market in Laurel Springs compared to other neighborhoods and those homes at lower prices, I would say that there are many reassons why higher priced homes on the market sit longer than less expensive ones including non-aggressive pricing, feeling out the market to make a large profit, corporate relocation subsidies lessning the motivation to negotiate, etc which are all consistent with behavior exhibited by people that live in premium price neighborhoods. With that said and for perspective, in April 2013, Forsyth County average days-on-market was between 60-68 days. Now, since you brought up foreclosures and name-dropped Laurel Springs ('price rages of Laurel Springs'), I thought I would provide some actual Forsyth County Foreclosure facts: According to Zillow.com, there are 877 properties in some stage of foreclosure. Of those 877 properties, only 68 of them are homes valued (by Zillow) above $450K - or 7.7%. hence, the other 92.3% are valued below $450K. Further, of the 68 properties over $450K, 52 are South of Hwy 20, leaving 16 above Hwy 20. Speaking of Laurel Springs, there are currently 9 homes in foreclosure out of 736 homes (representing 1% of all LS homes). - Tom Page, President - Laurel Springs HOA

October 17 at 6:06pm · Edited · Like..

Isaac Lang Tom Page, use Zillow: Forsyth County Real Estate

October 17 at 5:37pm · Like..

Isaac Lang You can filter by anything you like.

October 17 at 5:38pm · Like..

Isaac Lang Homes in Forsyth which have been on the market longer than 36 months:

October 17 at 5:40pm · Like..

Matthew Broms Justin Hawkins - I apologize if I was rude with my "minion" comment. That was not my intention and I don't wish to silence any valid discussions. I was just frustrated to hear the same talking points as Ethan only to learn you're working together at the same law firm hired to get these rezonings through with no disclosure as to who you were (which is a very valid item to consider). I respect the position you need to take on the behalf of your clients, but feel it's just that - the needs of your clients which are currently in conflict with the needs and wishes of the community. It doesn't represent the interests of the majority of citizens living here now and we don't need to hear these points reiterated from every person in your firm. Besides, your points are misleading an inaccurate.

For instance, you mention 16 resonzings approved to date, so there should be no reason or need to put a limit on them. That's true and on the surface that seems perfectly reasonable. What you don't share is that all 16 of those were in just 2 districts in the South (all below Hwy. 20) and your law firm represented 100% of them (or almost 100%). When you look at it like that, then you can better understand why we wish to slow them down here. They don't affect anything North of Hwy 20, but they're wreaking havoc in the South and things need to be thought through more vs. effectively rubber stamping your client's applications.

Regarding valuations, others have questioned your data and I have presented evidence to the contrary in my area. We haven't received any response from you to substantiate your claims or counteract our points.

Regarding the water & sewer bond, where's the data? Can you show me any actual evidence it's a true hardship on the County, that we won't be able to meet our obligations, or that Res1 & Res 2 won't use sewer as you claim? I haven't been able to find any and it seems we've been fine for some time now. Until we can see some financial details to back-up your claim, it's just fear mongering.

I have no skin in this game other than the health and well-being of the community I've invested in here. I'm a software developer and have no business in construction or real estate other than my home and the office space we bought to operate from, which are both in Forsyth. Nor do I wish to hold any sort of public office. I'm just an ordinary citizen fed up with the obvious lack of good planning for our community. Along with others here, I want to educate fellow citizens and protect the interests of my community, which is sadly way to idle on this subject allowing groups to come in and do as they please and mess up our quality of life. We're now experiencing the results of this poor planning and something needs to be done about it.

October 21 at 12:09pm · Like · 4..

Robert Slaughter The issue of the water and sewer bond is a complete fallacy. The County just refinanced their sewer bond this summer and saved several million dollars. The County's bond rating remains AAA. There is absolutely ZERO issue with the water and sewer bond. They have a new plant coming on line in a couple of years at Shakerrag and sufficient agreements in place to handle the capacity until that time. Absolute red herring.

October 21 at 9:51pm · Like..

Justin Hawkins Matthew- No need to apologize, I do not take offense to any names being thrown my way because I do realize that every member apart of these organizations are passionate about their community. Everyone including you wants their community to be responsible and preserve the quality of life for them and their family. I was commenting as an individual that has lived in South Forsyth for over 13 years, not as an employee of Lipscomb, Johnson. I in fact live right by zonings that are going on today in South Forsyth. I was not hiding the fact I work for Lipscomb, Johnson because as you know all you have to do is click on my page and see who my employer is. My original comment was too general but I have all the facts to back them up. I nor anyone working at Lipscomb, Johnson would make empty assertions or use tactics that involve "fear mongering". That is not how anyone in our office conducts business. I am not going to debate on Facebook but I will offer we perhaps meet in person over the next couple of weeks and talk about the issues concerning you. It would be much more valuable to all parties involved.

October 23 at 6:06pm · Like..

David Milum QUOTE; Justin Hawkins - "I nor anyone working at Lipscomb, Johnson would make empty assertions or use tactics that involve "fear mongering". That is not how anyone in our office conducts business."

DM: Great history here.

Convicted, controversial zoning attorney Emory Lipscomb

William Emory Lipscomb III, closing atty. for land bank scam

Convicted and conflicted insurance official Emory Lipscomb

October 23 at 8:12pm · Like..
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