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November 25, 2013FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts hoping to save their airfield in North Forsyth were told a decision on the issue would be postponed.
Further discussion by the Board of Commissioners on the aviation field took place after this publication went to press.
At issue is whether a lease should be terminated at the end of 2015 at a recreational model airplane field off Old Federal Road.
Aviation hobbyists and model airplane enthusiasts told Forsyth County Commissioners Nov. 21 they want the county to continue support of their field.
Commissioners have had their email inboxes flooded with support from across the nation for the lease extension of the field.
Georgia Model Aviators, which uses the field, holds replica model plane events.
Cliff Whitney, owner of Atlanta Hobby in Cumming, said his model airplane business would suffer.
"There could not be a more perfect plan for this property," Whitney said. "It adds greatly to this community."
Whitney, who runs an Internet show, said a lot of technology comes out of the model airplane hobby.
Chris Meeks, a longtime county resident, agreed.
"Our field brings irreplaceable benefits to Forsyth County," Meeks said.
County officials decided to end their lease two years early after threats of a lawsuit by a neighboring property owner, who says the model aviators club causes a lot of noise nuisance.
In August, members of the Garmon Family Trust, which owns several large tracts of land, sent a letter that also contends the land was bought as green space and the remote control airfield does not conform.
A month later, the county sent a letter to the club saying the lease agreement would end two years before the 2017 final termination.
At a Nov. 12 work session, commissioners voted 4-1, with Todd Levent opposed, to approve a settlement with the Garmon family that memorializes the lease termination and prevents future boards from reversing course.
But at their Nov. 21 regular meeting, commissioners sent the item back to work session to further discuss it.
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the northern district, has said she agreed with the Garmons because the property is not being used as it was intended.
In 2008, voters approved a green space $100 million bond referendum to buy the 225 acres for active park land, and the model airplane hobby does not qualify, Mills said.
Mills said the county's lease with Georgia Model Aviators also says that causing a nuisance is reason to terminate the contract.
The Georgia Model Aviators club began renting space 10 years ago, prior to the county's purchase in 2009.
Members say the club members have invested about $200,000 and they pay $12,000 annually to rent the field.
The aviators are now looking for about 100 acres of flat land for a new home for their club and at the same time are trying to ask the county to reverse course.
"They still have two more years to go," Forsyth County Chairman Pete Amos said prior to the meeting. "We've got plans for that and it doesn't meet the plans we have. We think we're being reasonable."