FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — At its Aug. 1 meeting the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved updates to its alcohol codes, a new tobacco-free parks policy and made preparations for the rollout of 5G technology. 

In April, the board approved an ordinance to allow open containers of alcohol at certain commercial properties larger than 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space. This qualification only applies to The Collection at Forsyth shopping center currently. To-go cups containing alcohol are also allowed at Vickery Village and will be allowed at Halcyon Forsyth.

At the most recent meeting, the board amended existing codes to be in line with that change, relaxing rules on outdoor patio spaces serving alcohol and adding definitions for micro-distilleries. The ordinance passed by a vote of 5-0. 

The board also voted unanimously for an ordinance to make all Forsyth County parks tobacco and smoke-free. Parks will no longer allow chewing tobacco, dip, vapes or other alternative nicotine products on the premises. 

The Forsyth Parks and Recreation board earlier voted unanimously in favor of the measure and the Department of Public Health sent a letter to the Board of Commissioners expressing its support for the ordinance. 

“It’s not just about someone breathing in what you’re blowing out,” Commissioner Todd Levent said. “It’s about the influence on the children as well.”

The board also made preparations for the coming implementation of 5G wireless technology. The state has already passed legislation allowing new small wireless facilities and antennae on public right of way. For example, antennae may be added to street lights and other poles by service providers. 

The ordinance presented at the public hearing would allow the county to create agreements with providers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, establishing fees and rates for the installation of new wireless facilities. The ordinance will require a meeting with the provider before it submits an application.

State law provides maximum fees that counties and cities may charge for installation, and the ordinance mandates that applicants must pay the maximum fees. Applicants must pay $100 per antennae or wireless facility on an existing pole, $250 for a replacement pole and $1,000 per new pole with a small wireless facility. 

The ordinance also requires an annual right of way occupancy rate that increases by 2.5 percent each year, with the rate starting in line with the above application fees.

“It’s not the hundreds and hundreds of poles that people are envisioning in their head,” Board Chair Laura Semanson said. “It is a fairly discreet technology. It is not something that blankets large areas, and they’re fairly small units.”

The state law goes into effect Oct. 1, and the county has already started conducting meetings with potential providers on their plans to implement the small wireless facilities.

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