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Coal Mountain Overlay Committee set for last meeting

POSTED: February 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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NORTH FORSYTH -- On Monday, the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee continued discussion on design standards at what is planned to be the group’s penultimate meeting.

Committee members discussed how the proposed overlay, which would largely deal with commercial building standards, would be connected to the county’s update to the comprehensive plan, called Foster Forsyth – especially for nodes, a feature in both plans that allows certain areas to have varying standards.

As proposed, the nodes in the overlay will go along Hwy. 369 between certain roads: a Matt node from Barrett Road to Heardmont Trace Road; a Coal Mountain node from about Gravitt Road to the Ga. 400 intersection; and a Hammond’s Crossing node from the Ga. 400 intersection eastward to about Mashburn Drive.

Director of Planning and Community Development Tom Brown said the comprehensive plan has more lofty goals that should be followed in the area, and an overlay has less sway and is “where the rubber hits the road.”

“In my world, a ‘shall’ and ‘should’ are a big difference,” he said. “A ‘shall’ says, ‘You are going to do this, period. This is how it’s going to be.’ And a ‘should’ is more of a, ‘Do you want to do it?’ We’d like you to, if you can.’”

He said the overlay would also be more specific since the comprehensive plan update looks at the whole county, while the committee is focused only on and area in north Forsyth that has been placed under a moratorium while the overlay is fleshed out.

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the majority of the area of the moratorium, said it is also important to leave some flexibility in the plan to breakup monotony.

“You’re talking about such a big area, if you made it so rigid then you’d end up with everything looking just alike,” she said.

Most commercial-zoned properties that would be affected by the overlay are currently under a moratorium on the acceptance of land disturbance permits until March 20. The moratorium was approved in December 2016 and affects parcels in Districts 1, 4 and 5.

During the meeting, the group also looked heavily at design standards for landscaping, trees, fencing and other design standards based on a questionnaire sent to members. The group is expected to have their final recommendations at the final meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

After the committee concludes its meetings and work, public hearings will be held before the county’s planning board and commissioners. The overlay can be adopted after the hearings.


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