Ashebrooke
Barrett Downs
Belmont
Bentley Farms
Bentley Hill Estates
Big Creek Township
Brannon Woods
Brighton Lake
Calamar
Castleberry Place
Castlebrooke
Coventry
Creekside
Creekside Estates
Dressage
Dressage
Enclave at Fieldstone
Estate at Creekside Fenwick
Fieldstone
Fieldstone Glen
Fieldstone Park
Forest Brooke
FoxCreek
Georgetown
Hampton Forest
Heritage Manor
Hunters Walk
Hutchinson Trace
Ivey Manor
Kentmere
Liberty
Longwood
Majors Ridge
Notting Hill
Oak Knoll
Oakmont
Pine Creek
Pinnacle Glen
Polo Fields
Post Gate
Preserve at Fieldstone
Providence Plantation
Rogers Crossing
Ryans Bluff
Sheffield
Silver Leaf
The Court at Bethelview Downs
The Villas at Castleberry Township
Valley Stream
Vickery
Vickery Downs
Vickery Lake
Vickery Springs
Wade Valley
West Castleberry Road
Weybridge
Whitfield
Wills Orchard
Wynfield

Leadership of City & County

City Summary

The city’s biggest strength has been its consistent leadership - - - - for 40 years Mayor Ford Gravitt has lead the city and in many instances the county (whether the leaders knew it or not).  He is recognized as a unique political force in north Georgia and knows all the state representatives, senators, judicial personnel, as well as relevant federal officials.

There is no question the Mayor has contributed positively to the development of Forsyth County.  Many pose the case that if the mayor had run the county (and therefore the city) for the last 20 years, the county as we know it today would be far better.  However, the hard truth is that the City of Cumming has never been attractive, even with a strong Mayor.

County residents, who can not vote for Mayor, see the city as a business saying we want more for ourselves!!  For example on SPLOST VI, the city sued for more money which the county finally gave them including an $8 to $10 million dollar aquatic center.   So this 5,400 person city has an aquatic center that most cities of 50,000 folks do not have.  They have annexed many adjacent properties by offering benefits like low water costs, minimal development costs, etc.  New shopping complexes like the new Market Place are viewed as the city’s right to more sales tax proceeds even if county residents pay 98+% of these taxes.

The city’s attitude seems similar to a Monopoly player who starts off owning Jail, Park Place, Boardwalk, etc. but in this case Jail is the water supply and occasional threats that the water will be sold to other nearby Counties has been an effective hammer.  This Monopoly player appears to want as many properties as he can acquire.  

The city’s biggest weakness results from it’s strength and spirit to win and have things - - - their motivation  appears to get stuff and  enjoy “the getting” - - - - - not in creating things to benefit the citizens!

As a result, city household income seriously lags, city growth rate is ¼ the county’s, the city environs are not pretty, convenient, walk-able, or citizen / family friendly.  The fairgrounds have little green, no beauty, and look like a 1960’s relic. The myriad of road signs on Hwy 20 west entering Cumming are gross.  Compare the City’s new Market Place to the County’s Avenue Forsyth.  Both are new - - - which is greener, more pleasant, inviting to just walk around a bit, and adds to the good green ambience of our county?  Which looks like a character-less fully paved 1970s design?

County Summary

Contrasted to the city, the county suffers from less consistency.  Brian Tam is the only County Commissioner in his second 4 year term.  All others are 1 term members and that is fairly normal.

What is consistent, however is the split between those who comply with the combined power of the City, the old time large land owners, the good old boy network, and the developer base which hopes for a return of the rapid growth period, and on the other side, those who support the premise that a BoC member must always be 100 % loyal to the Forsyth County homeowners who elected him.

The City, the old time large land owners, the good old boy network, and developer base group appear to be represented by two and sometimes three Commissioners:

He has expressed his displeasure at ForsythCRG and is trying to 4 lane Castleberry Road, a lightly traveled road with only single family residential and no commercial. Unfortunately, the mayor sees this as necessary for the city and his two “boys”.  Bell & Amos are his instruments.

Bell’s appointee to the planning commission unfairly and publicly berated an honorable commission member who wished to address an apparent un-ethical act  - - -  a tennis court  given by a developer to a commission member, and then called another citizen a Nazi!  The tree & apple story appears true here.

It will be interesting to see if the County attorney or Board Chairman suggest that Amos recuse himself entirely from SPLOST process as final selection involves the  interrelated selecting and de-selecting of individual items to reach a final list.

He will be an issue when the topic of Conservation Use is raised at the BoC level as some of his family holdings are in this status which avoids most taxes (the 66 acres close to Market Place pays less than $1,000 per year in taxes).  In three years on the planning commission during the go-go growth period he voted yes on 95+% of all re-zoning applications!  And in one set of conditions, he was 99% in favor over 2 years!!

When he filed to run for commissioner, he failed to show the vast extent of family properties and after ethics complaints, he filed an addendum.  See link to Fox News interview;  http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/i-team-county-commission-062410.

Both Amos and Bell appear to think highly of Mayor Gravitt as a great public official.  They do not appear at all disturbed that city residents have such low household incomes or that the city has ¼ the growth rate of the countyOne cannot expect the good old boy Network to be civic and people minded.

It is hard to leave the “shelter of The City / Rapid Growth / Good Ole Boy / Rapid Growth Network”.  A recent example: the county’s renowned local zoning lawyer, who is a director of United Community Bank (UCB) that the County decided to use for our account, was recently involved in a fund raiser for P. Bell.

See source information at http://www.aboutforsyth.net/v3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6111.

P. Bell under advice of legal counsel recused himself on the (UBC) bank vote as the same bank had issued loans to his family / friends.  He recently questioned his own attorney’s decision and may vote on the bank issue.

We hope B. Tam does leave the Network!!  It is far better to do good for everyone than a few selfish and / or ambitious people.

The two remaining BoC members, Jim Boff and Todd Levent have shown themselves to be Homeowner oriented.  This can be extremely difficult when the majority dictates the agenda in favor of the special interests with which they are allied and who give them plenty of campaign  funds.  If you agree, email your encouragement to Todd & Jim.