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Planning board reviews requests for hundreds of homes

Rezonings, variances add up to long night

POSTED: March 1, 2014 12:40 a.m.
 

CUMMING — During a marathon meeting this week, Forsyth County’s planning board approved several rezonings and variances that could result in about 700 new homes.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney who represented several of the firms seeking a favorable recommendation from the board, noted that the county’s housing market is slowly bouncing back.

“There’s just a market demand and a lack of supply,” he said referring to the low inventory of finished lots. “I think it’s a lot healthier now than it was the first time.

“When we had a big growth spurt in 2005-06, banks were lending money on a speculative basis ... now they’re not allowing the construction of an inordinate number of spec homes.”

Among the projects the planning board recommended that the county commission approve were a 200- home project on Hurt Bridge and Heardsville roads and a 980-lot residential project off Castleberry Road.

Underwood said the residential project is one of many developments that could come to that corridor, bolstering the commission’s recent decision to go ahead with widening it to four lanes.

“The county, for 10 years, has recognized that Castleberry Road needs to be improved,” he said after the meeting. “It’s a dangerous road as it currently stands, and it needs to be fixed.

“I think the fact that people want to develop on Castleberry is indicative of its future growth and it just emphasizes the need to make those improvements.”

The planning board will hear again next month about a rezoning request for 66 townhomes off Mathis Airpark Drive. The audience made it clear it was against the project, but the panel knotted at 2-2, meaning it will need to wait for a tiebreaking vote next month when Greg Dolezal comes aboard.

Another contentious project discussed Tuesday night was a plan to add 14 residential lots to the Polo Golf & Country Club.

Underwood, who represented KM Homes in its application for the Res 2 zoning, said the project would add to the character of the subdivision.

The homeowners’ association president spoke in favor of the development, but resident Bill Collins and his wife vehemently opposed it, citing their opposition to the proposed detention pond.

“We come before you as threatened county citizens who perceive real and serious potential damage from the proposed stormwater management portion of this application,” he said.

“We feel this threat will adversely affect our property values, endanger the structure of our home and expose us to bad health effects from the proposed location of a massive detention pond next to our lot.”

Before recommending approval of the rezoning, the planning board added a requirement that the developer and homeowners’ association work with a detention pond servicing company to inspect for integrity and insect control. 

After the meeting, Underwood said he plans to revisit that addition.

“I don’t think it’s fair to hold one developer to a different standard to maintain a detention pond that’s not required of any other detention pond in the county,” he said. “My client just wants to be treated like everyone else.”

Tuesday night’s agenda was a lofty one, with several postponed items from recent months coming together. Underwood said it’s unlikely this many rezonings would be requested again in a single night.

“When you’ve had such a lull for a long time, there’s a bit of a shock factor when you’re seeing so many applications coming in at once,” He said. “When there becomes a more stable supply of finished lots, you won’t see this rush and the number of zoning applications will stabilize.”

 

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