CUMMING, Ga. — A homeowners association vote has sparked Forsyth County officials to reconsider its policy for abandonment of public right of way.
At its Aug. 1 meeting, county commissioners heard several members of the Parc at Creekstone subdivision express concerns over the low requirements necessary to bring the abandonment of public right of way. The subdivision’s homeowners association set up a vote in April 2018 to abandon all public right of way in the residential development, including both Manor View and Terrace Lane. The association said it intended to gate the community if the board were to approve the abandonment.
Several residents of the subdivision spoke against the abandonment, and none came to speak in favor. No members of the homeowners association were present.
Speakers said that not only was this vote not transparent — meaning residents could not tell who voted for what — but several members of the association had changed in the year since the vote was taken.
The abandonment would make roads more difficult to maintain, resident Pankaj Rajankar said, and this could devalue homes. It takes 70 percent of homeowners to approve installation of a speed bump, Rajankar said, but abandonment only takes a simple majority.
After hearing from the public, County Commissioner Todd Levent asked how this happened in the first place. Other commissioners joined in, saying that the county’s policy on abandonment should be examined.
Under current policy, if a homeowners association would like to privatize a road, they may conduct a vote within the local community. If the initiative garners a 51 percent majority, a covenant would be created that is sent to the board of commissioners.
Nearby cities and counties have much higher restrictions, requiring 100 percent approval in some cases, or a tiered system like the one in Milton.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said that Milton’s system requires stronger majorities for smaller neighborhoods and weaker majorities for larger neighborhoods. But the county is not bound by covenants.
“At the end of the day the board of commissioners can do what (the board) believes is in the best interest of the county on this,” Jarrard said.
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the board should look into the issue. It takes 100 percent approval when the county takes back a road, Mills said, so it would make sense to set a higher requirement for public abandonment. Turnout at the meeting, she said, also convinced her that it may be in the community’s best interest to keep the road public.
“Where are the people who wanted it so bad?” Mills said.
The board voted to push the item to its Sept. 5 agenda. The neighborhood is in Commissioner Dennis T. Brown’s district, and he said that he would organize a meeting between members on both sides of the issue in that subdivision to find a solution.