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Cumming City Council discusses 20-year land-use plan

 
POSTED: February 28, 2017 3:00 a.m.

Cumming residents recently had a chance to voice concerns on the city’s 20-year land use plan.

At a meeting of the Cumming City Council on Tuesday, a public hearing was held on an update to the city’s comprehensive plan.

“This is a second public hearing on the draft comprehensive plan,” Planner Jerry Weitz, of Jerry Weitz and Associates, said. “We do an update about every five years and preceding this we had an appointed steering committee that met four times and we held hearings and … had a community survey.”

The plan also makes changes to several zoning categories. Residential, single family and residential, multi-family will be replaced with: residential-1, up to 1.5 units per acre; residential-1A, 1.5-2.5 units per acre; residential-2, 2.5-3 units per acre; and residential-3, for single- and multi-family developments with 3-6 units per acre.

A suburban mixed use category was added for “residential, institutional, office-professional, commercial or combination thereof integrated vertically and/or horizontally, with standards such as 25 feet minimum height for buildings, two minimum floors and average of 1,600 square feet of heated floor area per dwelling unit.

Bob Hughes, a planner with HGOR, was the lone public comment speaker at the council meeting and spoke on behalf of the Mashburn family, who has property designated as part of the category.

“People think mixed-use sometimes is vertical, that should be allowed and maybe even encouraged, but not absolutely required in an ordinance like this,” he said.

Previous categories of vacant/undeveloped and agriculture/forestry are not included in the new plan.

The plan also looked at needs and opportunities using a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, or SWOT, analysis.

Strengths for the city were location in county and region, financial progress and stability, increase in affluence, business-friendly posture, county school innovation and recreation, parks and fairgrounds.

Weaknesses were downtown Cumming not being a destination, architectural appearance and sign clutter, lack of “Class A” office space, housing affordability, limited public transportation, no rail access, and limited options to bypass Hwy. 20.

Opportunities were Mary Alice Park development, city-owned properties, development of large blocks of private land, local road network extensions, the University of North Georgia’s Cumming campus, redevelopment and annexation.

Threats to the city were worsening traffic congestion, transitional neighborhoods, limited expansion potential for the Cumming Fairgrounds, loss of historical resources and the prospect of additional incorporated cities.

The plan also lays out goals for housing, historical preservation, economic development, land use, community facilities and services, transportation, intergovernmental cooperation and natural resources on the environment.

The plan will come back to the council at a future meeting.

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he had a few issues with the current plan and indicated another meeting might be needed to iron them out.

“If you go back about 30 years we find integrated into this plan … we have an airport in south Forsyth, which is Mathis Airport; we don’t have that airport anymore,” said Gravitt. “I have conflict with several other issues we need to talk about. We may have to have a board meeting to discuss some of those things.”

Scott Morgan, the city’s director of planning and zoning, said some of the mayor’s issues had already been resolved.

A copy of the plan is available at CityofCumming.net.

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