FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — In a unanimous Sept. 16 decision, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners denied pending applications to expand The Fields at Keith Bridge, an outdoor facility just south of Millwood Road.
The commissioners rejected the proposal 5-0 after hearing from local area owners and project stakeholders from Atlanta Cricket Fields.
The proposal, put forward by solicitor Ethan Underwood, would have added a cricket practice ground to a 7.3-acre portion of the northwestern edge of the facility and would be used for children’s cricket practice.
Underwood said their plans went against the property’s original conditional use permit, which prohibits construction of sports fields within 450 feet of Cantrell Circle, a nearby street.
“It doesn’t say ‘concession stand,’ it doesn’t say ‘practice facility,’ it doesn’t say property can’t be used, it just says sports fields,” Underwood said. “Our customers are victims of their own success, they have brought in a lot of people, and now they are looking to set up fields to train children’s fields. We believe this is a change that would benefit everyone and have less impact.
The plan originally called for two practice fields that would have taken up most of the 7.3 acres, but Underwood said they narrowed the plan down to one field after working with local landowners.
Underwood argued that they have received several letters of support from surrounding landowners and that the proposal is a good compromise for what each side wants.
“This proposal is the middle proposal,” he said. “We have obtained the consent of the people most affected by this.”
But two speakers representing the Wild Rose subdivision, which is north of the cricket grounds, said the expansion proposal was anything but middle ground.
Wild Rose HOA board member Liana Hall said 86% of owners oppose the expansion, according to a recent survey by the association.
“The reason people move to our neighborhood is because they like being in the country, they like the bigger lots and the quiet neighborhood,” Hall said. “The neighbors heard about this amendment and said, ‘No, that’s too much noise already.’ If we had a way to push the fields further, we would.
After hearing from both sides about the proposal, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she appreciates the cricket grounds and all they do for the community, but can’t go to against the original conditions of the property, without the support of the surrounding community.
“I love working with the cricket grounds so much, I think they are doing a great service to the county,” she said. “But that was an original condition.”
Despite her request for denial, Mills said that in the future she would like to see public cricket grounds added to a local park when they have space.