The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners met on Thursday, January 4th, 2007 and voted 3-1 to approve a residential zoning moratorium for Forsyth County. The measure was sponsored by Charles Laughinghouse and originally called for a straight six (6) month moratorium on all residential re-zonings within the County. The adopted resolution was modified to call for a 90-day moratorium to allow a study of infrastructure and review of the UDC and for a notice and advertisement of a public hearing to be held on the matter with an additional 90-day moratorium imposed if needed to allow for modifications to the UDC. Below you will find copies of the original resolution and council comments along with a link to the county’s website to view video of the meeting. The adopted resolution will be posted soon.
Click here to view the Forsyth County BOC Video– (January 4th, 2007 Regular Meeting)
Prior to the BOC meeting, Council staff spent several days researching the moratorium issue as it related to “infrastructure deficiencies” within the County and learned several things. Currently, some of the Commissioners are using the need to “assess” the county’s infrastructure as sole reason for using the moratorium. The resolution suggests that a “problem” exist that must be addressed. Case law has clearly defined that the County must have a position of absolute, immediately pending crisis to justify issuing a moratorium and it must clearly define a timetable and solution to address the immediate need.
According to the research conducted by our staff, there are no pending crises of an immediate nature. The County staff in each of the major departments have told our staff that the county has performed recent assessments of water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure so county officials are well aware of any deficiencies that may exist in both the immediate, near, and long-term periods. The County has undergone numerous analyses through CH2M Hill & Associates regarding water and sewer infrastructure needs (near & long-term) as a result of EPD permitting processes. In addition, the BOC adopted the county’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan update on December 21st, which provides a 20-year assessment of all transportation infrastructure and includes immediate, near, and long-term recommendations for projects and identifies appropriate funding resources. This plan is updated every five years and the County’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is updated every two-years. Furthermore, the ARC and DOT produce a CCWP (a 5 year construction work program) which is updated annually. Finally, the County is required to update its Comprehensive Plan Short-term Work Program every year for all other services (recreation, fire/ems, police services, etc.) per DCA requirements and DIFA because the county has an impact fee. With that in mind it is clear that no assessment is needed to be performed and therefore no real justification exists on which to base the moratorium as claimed in the resolution.
The Council does recognize that Forsyth County has a water supply issue for both the near and long-term periods. According to Tim Perkins, Director of Water & Sewer, the county conceivably has a 1-yr or less capacity life for drinkable water if current rates of consumption continue during the peak summer months. The problem is being exacerbated because of residential lawn watering during “dry” seasons. However, he stated that the issue can easily be relieved if a total watering ban is permanently put in place during the summer months. This would extend the drinkable water capacity levels out 5 to 10 yrs. He explicitly stated that no crisis exists during the remainder of the year- only during the summer months. The issue, however, is a public relations nightmare for the County. The development community can help to address some aspects of this by instituting better practices such as limiting the planting of sod to off-peak months (i.e. the spring), using water conservation measure within residential communities (conservation shower heads, facets, and toilets) and working with the County to promote water re-use within the county for lawn maintenance for public/common areas and commercial properties.