For those that don’t know me, I lead a group called “Post Road Committee for Proper Development”. We formed back in 2001 and, since then, have been involved in every development action and local issue along Post Road and west Forsyth. We’ve been doing this for almost 14 years now here in Forsyth County.
I am disappointed that there is a significant lack of understanding of why this bond is not the appropriate solution for our traffic problems. I was saddened to read that this bond is being supported by some of our elected officials. I won’t take the time and space here to list the plethora of valid reasons to oppose this bond, but I will touch on a few points.
We have worked/struggled for almost a decade and a half to have our Commissioners keep densities down and follow the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. While some Commissioners have been ‘resident-friendly’, the majority have had a different agenda. Despite our efforts, we are now faced with one of the things we have been trying to avoid. We are not going to willingly pay for the development decisions we’ve been pointing out to be wrong for so many years.
We should not be the ones to pay for the transportation pain. Levy an appropriate impact fee upon builders and/or developers. We’ve supported this option for over 10 years, but were not listened to. Unfortunate. If additional money is needed to supplement the increased impact fee level, that’s what SPLOSTs are for.
Speaking of SPLOST (and needing more money), that is the proper technique for addressing county roads, not a general obligation bond. SPLOSTs are rigid in their project structure and scope. This bond does not have the same project control parameters, bond money does not have to be locked into specific roads – there’s too much flexibility in a bond and our group has learned the hard way to be very cynical when it comes to the local politics here in Forsyth as any flexibility will be exploited. And, the DOT, in the shape they’ve been in for the past several years, is not going to expedite improving/modifying state roads simply because we pass a bond. We have been in contact with the DOT for almost 14 years as we have continued to track the status of the Post Road project (0006915) and see no difference in their operational pattern.
I can assure you that the economy is not the reason for the pain. The statement about rapid development (the phrase should actually be “bad” development as speed is not necessarily bad) is true. We saw within two years of our group formation that Post Road was on track to be overdeveloped. This was back in 2002-2003. If our Commissioners and local politicians had truly listened to us and represented us as we constantly asked them to do, it’s likely that we would not need the bond today. It was only simple math needed to look at the available land along Post Road at that time, multiple it by the densities being approved (primarily RES3) and realize that we were in trouble. It’s regrettable that our Commissioners have looked only at one development action at a time rather than an entire area served by a single primary road.
Finally, Forsyth County has been an informal member of the Atlanta Regional Commission since 1989 (due to ozone non-attainment metrics) and a formal member since 2004. We’ve had a relationship with Atlanta in some fashion for 35 years due to the ARC offices being located there. Even though the topic of ‘keeping our money in our county’ was not brought up in this thread, I am compelled to add this point. Our money is blended into various financial accounts due to our involvement in ARC. To reinforce my earlier statement about politicians exploiting flexibility and information, this is a perfect example. Yes, money from Forsyth goes to ARC and is used in other counties due to the consolidated financial accounts, but other counties’ money is used in Forsyth for the same reasons. It’s disappointing that anyone using this misleading statement about losing our money to Atlanta is doing so to exploit the average resident’s lack of knowledge of how we work with the ARC.
I’ll close with saying that the ultimate solution is to install Commissioners who actually represent county residents. That’s why we’ve been hammering away for over 7 years to get the election model changed back to at-large elections since it was on the 2008 ballot (actually, since we first heard about it back in 2007).
Sorry for the length, but I did want to get in my $0.02 so you are aware of another coalition group’s perspective on why this bond should not be passed.