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Lines drawn over body shop proposal

Neighbors worry about traffic, less green space

POSTED: June 16, 2014 12:06 a.m.
 

SOUTH FORSYTH — A proposal to amend zoning conditions to allow a body shop on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth has drawn opposition from neighbors, more than 100 of whom attended a recent Forsyth County commission meeting.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney with Lipscomb, Johnson, Sleister, Dailey and Smith LLP, which is representing the property owner, said his client asked that the matter be postponed from June 5 to July 3 in order to have time to meet with more of the nearby neighborhood homeowner associations.

Citing the large turnout last week, however, the commission extended the public comments portion of the meeting to allow a few of the residents to talk about the proposed 32,750-square-foot Classic Collision center.

Elizabeth Pehrson said she and other residents who are part of a group called Concerned Citizens of South Forsyth County aren’t necessarily opposed to development, but want it to stay true to zoning conditions placed on the site when it was approved for a car wash in 2008.

“We recognize that this parcel was zoned [commercial business district] in 2008,” she said. “However, we expect the business utilizing this space to adhere to the approved conditions for this property and to the [unified development code].”

Pehrson said a main worry of the group, which includes about 1,000 homeowners in 11 neighborhoods, is the new site plan.

“Instead of maintaining a beautiful green space which ties into our residential appearance, we will now be subjected to a view of an industrial-type building with all that accompanies such a site,” she said. “It will be completely out of character with this area and our homes.”

Stephanie Raymond, another member of the Concerned Citizens of South Forsyth group, said the new plan would create a building 10 times the size of a car wash, and will “utilize 85 percent of the property compared to [one-third].”

After the meeting, Underwood said the property owners want a large building in order to house a majority of the vehicles being serviced, which in turn would create a more pleasant appearance.

“Unfortunately, a wrecked car is not a very pretty item,” he said. “So what they want to do is be able to put up landscaping so that folks don’t see any wrecked vehicles … they’re all inside, so people aren’t seeing them.”

Underwood said he and the property owners had met with several homeowners’ groups and are working on scheduling additional meetings with others.

He said he believes the large outcry against the proposal may be due to some misinformation circulating online.

“First and foremost, there are no variances being requested and the center will comply with the Peachtree Parkway overlay [district],” he said.  “Our client recognizes that this is the major commercial area in south Forsyth. They want it to look very attractive … and make sure this is a building the entire community is proud of.”

Besides aesthetics, residents who spoke during the meeting also seemed concerned about increased traffic. However, Underwood said the collision center would generate less traffic than the previous proposal.

“The car wash model was anticipating an average of 200 cars per day, with most of them being loaded up on the weekend,” he said. “So you may have up to 700 cars a day coming in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But what we’re proposing would mostly likely have no more than 59 vehicles coming in a day and 25 of those would be employees.”

Underwood added that he is happy to speak with anyone who has concerns. “What we’re trying to do is make sure there is accurate information out there, so anyone who is interested in discussing it, we’re happy to talk with them about it,” he said.

 

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