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Community center shelved in Forsyth

POSTED: May 10, 2009 9:54 p.m.

CUMMING  — Plans for a youth community center in a northeastern Forsyth County neighborhood appear uncertain, though both sides say the issue may not be over. But plans are likely to go ahead to upgrade a park in Jackson County.

Construction of a 5,000-square-foot building on Crystal Cove Trail requires that the Forsyth County commission approve an exception to zoning rules for the property.

Last week, the Forsyth County Commission withdrew the application for the county-initiated proposal.

Former Commissioner David Richard said the matter was initiated by the county because, “I wanted to try to get it done before my term was over with.”

Commissioner Patrick Bell, whose District 4 includes the site said he made the motion to withdraw the application because he was “concerned about the direction it was taking.”

Attorney Ethan Underwood, who represents supporters of the center, said the organization seeking to build the center is “investigating our options at this point.”

Attorney Joseph Stauffer, who represents residents opposed to the community center, thanked commissioners for withdrawing the decision, but vowed residents would remain vigilant.

“There have been rumors that this is going to get built anyway,” Stauffer said. “We want to make sure everyone knows we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on this.”

Faith-based nonprofit BridgePoint Community Networks could come back seeking approval of the variances, or zoning exceptions.

For the past five years, members of the organization have focused their efforts on the youth of Crystal Cove Trail, holding Bible studies and group discussions with neighborhood teenagers and young adults.

Some residents of the community believe a center housing these meetings would be a plus, while others contend it would hurt property values and increase traffic and crime.

In Jackson County, the park that sits below West Jackson Primary School along Ga. 53 may soon receive a much needed upgrade.

Current plans call for building a regulation-sized soccer field, four multi-purpose fields, a walking path, additional parking, restrooms and a concessions stand. The park now includes a baseball and soccer field.

Jackson County commissioner Bruce Yates said the county is working with Hoschton and the Jackson County Board of Education as both own part of the property being considered for the park.

Yates said no final decisions or agreements have been made, but he hopes the project will be finished within a year.

Times regional staff reporter Katie Dunn contributed to this story.



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