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Neighbors upset over stream buffer deal

Zoning board says matter closed

POSTED: September 6, 2012 12:31 a.m.

A residential developer and Forsyth County reached an agreement Tuesday on a stream buffer dispute, leaving neighboring homeowners upset with no avenue to protest the decision.

Residents of Champions Run, the subdivision in question, and adjacent Grand Cascades disagreed with the Zoning Board of Appeals’ 4-0 vote to approve a consent order allowing for a 35-foot stream buffer associated with a portion of the partially developed neighborhood on James Burgess Road in southeastern Forsyth.

The county’s planning department initially denied the application for a land disturbance permit in July because the submitted plat didn’t show the 50-foot buffer, so the developer appealed the administrative decision to the zoning board.

They were cut short of hearing the arguments since the two sides drafted an agreement.

The sides agreed to allow the reduction from the existing 50-foot buffer requirement to 35 feet, which was the minimum at the time of the 2004 zoning, said Paul Fricke, of the county attorney’s law firm.

The legal representatives agreed that the developer, Rocklyn Homes, had “vested rights” based in part by past permits received, Fricke said.

Residents of the two neighborhoods have concerns about flooding, the site plans and past commitments regarding the development.

But mostly on Tuesday, they spoke out about their comments not being heard.

They asked why the forum was provided if they couldn’t speak and some questioned whether the board or county had received any benefits from the developer.

Chairman Jim Kinsey banged the gavel in an attempt to quell the outcries.

With the appealing developer and the county in agreement on the administrative decision, Kinsey said there was no dispute to address.

“There is no argument here, there is no case anymore,” he said. “So there is no forum for testimony.”

He said the residents could file an appeal within 10 days to ask the county commission to review the matter.

Residents gathered outside of the meeting room afterward and appointed a homeowner to file the appeal.


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