Letter to editor: New city in Forsyth County? Bad idea

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A Forsyth County Herald article on Jan. 22, “Forsyth County could get new city,” and an earlier article in the Forsyth County News report on advocates recycling efforts used to create the Johns Creek “city” to formulate a new “Sharon Springs city” out of Forsyth County.

Forsyth County is nothing like sprawling Fulton County with its structural and systemic woes widely reported in the news.

The brainchild of the discontented group is the Sharon Springs Alliance (SSA), which would like to add layers of unneeded government bureaucrats on 44 square miles of the county that in no way has the characteristics of a “city.”

We just don’t need a city mayor, city council, city lawyers and maybe judges, city tax collectors, city contracting and a new city hall among other hair-splitting divisions for other common services that would introduce nothing but government confusion for our citizens.

The Herald article citing Phillip Barlag, an SSA co-founder, states, “90 percent of all zonings in the county are for the area south of exit 14 on Ga. 400.” And “reasoning … was to create more government accountability” and “not to create more government, but by shifting accountability locally.”

This visioning is very improbable and wasteful of citizens’ time and efforts as well as our local government attention.

It would also create spaghetti-like webs of connections for the citizens to sort through to figure out who does what to whom, and where to go for services.

Having lived in the “target” area for over 13 years, I have worked with and seen the good and the bad of the county government from the perspective of a resident.

My assessment is, overall, we have a good government, which has produced some great results – look at openness, public safety, parks and recreation.

If a resident wants to be involved, there are certainly many opportunities including zoning and development planning; all one needs to do is step up and get on board.

Considering that the population in the county has about doubled since 2000 and more growth is forecast, there are areas where county government could be improved. Part of the situation is that we have held to the same five commissioners as population has exploded.

One suggestion is to look at revamping the commission structure to something that is based on representing the population, not just covering the geography divided by five.

Maybe we need eight or 10 commissioners; the number of county planning board members would increase comparably.

This approach could create needed evolution, not cause a revolution.

Additionally, there should be a re-look at our hardworking county staff – there are a lot of irons in the fire and the activity grows with population and development while staffing likely lags recovery from the “Great Recession.”

In addition to development planning, other impact areas include expanding impervious surface, increased stormwater runoff, options to automobile transport, needs for regulatory complex and detailed monitoring and enforcement and building for the future.

Let’s give this some thought and do the right things.