CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County commissioners were scratching their heads recently when they reviewed a proposal by the City of Cumming to annex just over 125 acres between Dr. Dunn Drive and Pilgrim Road.

The request was made by several landowners and comes just four months after the city annexed 46 acres of land from the county for its City Center project. 

Curtis Williams, who owns 72 acres on Pilgrim Road, explained at a special June 4 Cumming City Council meeting that he wants the annexation because the county’s permitting process and ordinances make it difficult to build anything.

The city is proposing that most of the land remain in the same zoning category it now carries with the county. There are a few differences, however.

Under the city’s proposal, two of the parcels now zoned Ag 1 for large lots would be listed with a zoning code “AP” which denotes a one-year continuation of the same zoning in the city. After that one-year period, the city could rezone the property for another use. The new AP zoning designation was adopted at a Cumming City Council meeting also in early June.

The county is having none of it, though.

At a June 25 work session, county commissioners found the designation suspicious.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the designation may be an attempt to thwart any objections by the county on a land-use basis.

County Commission Chairman Laura Semanson had nothing good to say about it.

“That’s just ridiculous because that’s redundant,” she said. “There’s no meaning to that. [It] absolutely signals that they want to change it.”

Commissioner Todd Levent called the city’s new zoning designation “three coconut shells.”

At least part of the annexation proposal could be short circuited before it proceeds, however. One landowner who owns a small tract between two parcels is considering withdrawing his support to be included in the annexation, Jarrard said. By law, annexations must be contiguous, and a break in the chain nullifies a bid for annexation beyond that point.

That break in succession, Jarrard said, would give the county a legitimate argument against annexation of any property west of Highway 9.

County commissioners agreed to oppose the annexation bid primarily from a land-use perspective calling the city’s action an attempt to overcome the county’s land-use standards.

Jarrard emphasized that the city’s zoning proposals on the land are not wildly different from the county’s. He said the land-use argument against the annexation will be difficult to make. But, he added, some of the property proposed for annexation, it could be argued, is an overt attempt to avoid the county’s tree ordinance and other codes.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said they should add another official reason to oppose the annexation: “Because we just don’t like it — period.”

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