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Rezoning process changes sent to BOC

Planning board recommends approval

POSTED: February 28, 2013 12:28 a.m.

The Forsyth County planning board recommended approval of changes to the rezoning process as proposed by staff, though other suggestions were floated during its meeting Tuesday night.

The board voted 4-1, with member Joe Moses opposed, to send the unified development code changes to the county commission without revisions.

The commission is slated to hold the second public hearing on April 4 and consider approval of the code changes, which came about as part of the “user friendly initiative.”

The initiative began in 2011 with a stakeholder group discussing ideas on how to streamline the process and reboot development.

The rezoning changes reduce the application process from two parts, a preliminary review and a board submittal, to one all-purpose application, said Vanessa Bernstein, senior long-range planner.

The proposal also reduces the reporting requirements for public participation meetings and lowers the number of days to post a sign from 21 to 15.

In addition, it allows more discretion for how major changes to an application will affect its timeline, Bernstein said.

“The changes are to streamline the process while minimizing the reduction or elimination of standards,” she said.

Moses suggested three revisions to the rezoning code proposal: adding the name of an owner or officer when a corporation is the applicant; including all concerns from a public participation meeting rather than a summary; and a requirement to maintain a posted sign until the public participation process has been completed.

His motion to add those changes did not receive any support from the other members.

During the public hearing, attorney Ethan Underwood, who often represents applicants for rezonings, spoke in favor of the proposal.

The way the existing code is written, Underwood said, the window in the process to hold a public participation meeting is typically about two days.

The changes would provide three weeks for the applicant to hold that meeting and then address the public’s concerns before the proposal reaches the planning board at a work session, he said.

Also in approving the code changes for rezoning, the board’s vote was in favor of adding a provision that would grandfather in the smaller lot size requirements for Residential-3 zonings submitted prior to Nov. 1, 2007, when the standards changed.



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