FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson issued two orders April 3 related to countywide operations during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The first order deals with operations within the Forsyth County Planning Department and how it processes certain documents, such as plats, surveys and permit applications. The order allows that these documents can now be submitted electronically instead of by hard copy.

The order also provided that all fees are to be paid through electronic means, such as credit cards.

“Essentially, this is kind of putting us a little step ahead on action we were going to be taking anyway, with respect to being able to accept plans electronically,” Semanson said at a special called online meeting of the full board of commissioners April 6. “We’re getting a test run under duress. I think this is the right time to go ahead and try this.”

The full board ratified the order unanimously.

The second executive order, also ratified by the full commission April 6, deals with suspending the requirement for employees of alcohol vendors to obtain a permit to sell alcohol. The order was initiated to address licensed operators’ concerns of staffing their business during the pandemic.

The order includes provisions that the employees must otherwise meet requirements set out in the county code for employee qualifications to dispense alcohol, such as meeting the age requirement. It does not allow these employees to engage in any otherwise illegal activity, such as dispensing alcohol to minors. After the lifting of the emergency order, tentatively set for April 17, the unpermitted employees will have 30 days to obtain their required license.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the order is similar in nature to other special measures the board of commissioners has taken to keep businesses operating during troubled times.

Semanson said the order was initiated to help provide opportunities for those who find themselves out of jobs due to recent business closures and to help as many businesses as possible continue operation.

Chairwoman Semanson declared a local emergency March 18, which was ratified by the full commission the following day. The emergency order gave the chair certain unilateral powers to act on matters of a pressing nature related to public safety and emergency services during the coronavirus pandemic. Orders issued by the chair are required to be later ratified by the full board of county commissioners.

The County Commission has two meetings scheduled for next week, a work session at 2 p.m. April 14 and a formal meeting at 5 p.m. April 16.

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