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Board approves variance for Honda dealership
Changes to plan for adjacent Kia dealership postponed
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Forsyth County News

Other Business

Also during their meeting Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners approved:

• Changes to the county’s Unified Development Code to create a Buford Highway overlay district which creates landscape, parking, outdoor lighting and signage requirements for any future businesses developed from Ronald Reagan Boulevard to the Gwinnett County line. The overlay, which includes 500 feet across the centerline of Buford Hwy., will also include performance standards for fuel stations, as well as vehicle service, parts, repair and sales establishments.

The regulations established by the overlay district would not apply to any business currently within the district, but only to future sites.

• Abandonments of Cross Drive and a portion of Mathis Airport Drive.

• A rezoning of 117 Settles Road from RES3 and A1 to solely A1. This was a county initiated rezoning.

• An amendment to zoning conditions placed on a property at the intersection of Shiloh Road and McFarland Parkway. There was originally a condition placed on the property that it had to be used for a hotel. Now owners have plans to construct a Carrington Academy daycare at the site instead.

• An amendment to zoning conditions placed on 10 acres at the intersection of Union Hill and Shiloh Road, which would allow brick and stone be used in construction of homes, as well as the use of some accent materials.

• An amendment to zoning conditions to allow a developer to provide one amenities package for a future subdivision on Aaron Sosebee Road. The developer is combining two tracts of land. Previously, each tract was planned to be used as a separate subdivision with its own amenities package.

• A request for a public hearing for a previous decision by the zoning board of appeals concerning a front yard variance. The hearing will be held March 6.

• In a 3-to-2 vote with commissioners Jim Boff and Todd Levent opposed, removal of Castleberry Road from the table. Commissioners plan to further discuss possible improvements to the road during their Feb. 11 work session.

• The appointment of Greg Dolezal to serve as district 3 planning commissioner, filling the unexpired term of Craig Nolen.

• Alcohol licenses for four businesses; and pawn shop licenses for nine businesses.

• Commissioners also postponed an amendment to zoning conditions on land at the intersection of Majors and Castleberry roads, which would change some requirements placed on the developer concerning building materials and finishes.

• In administrative hearings, commissioners also voted to suspend alcohol sales for two days at Walgreens on Keith Bridge Road following a second under-age sales violation in less than 24 months; and to place a warning letter in the file of Lupe’s Rio Cantina and Grill following a first underage sales violation.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

Forsyth County — A Cumming Honda dealership has received approval to allow all of its display vehicles to be visible along Hwy. 20 and to allow deliveries during certain hours each day.

During their regular meeting Thursday night, Forsyth County commissioners unanimously approved requested variances for Lou Sobh Honda on Hwy. 20 near Market Place Boulevard.

However, after hearing concerns from neighbors, commissioners agreed to postpone a vote that would have granted the same variances for a proposed Kia dealership.

Sobh representatives plan to construct the Kia facility on land adjacent to the Honda dealership, which opened in December.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing the Sobh business, said currently in the county that vehicle dealerships can’t have more than 30 percent of their inventory visible from a right of way.

“To me, that really makes a car dealership unfeasible, can’t function, so we’re asking [for this variance],” Underwood said.

The other variance request allows the dealership to have deliveries from parts suppliers between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Denise Hously, a resident of Grove Park subdivision, one of several that adjoin the Sobh property, said she and her neighbors were in favor of the variance request.

“We have worked with Sobh to a great extent to try to address issues we currently have with light spillage. Sobh has worked with us greatly,” she said, noting that the dealership has agreed to reduce the number of lights it leaves on overnight as well as build a “good buffer of foliage and trees.”

Kirk Wintersteen spoke against the move, saying that for a variance, an applicant needs to show some form of hardship or something that is unique.

“I don’t see any of those factors in this variance,” he said.

“Car dealerships are going to be able to survive in this county without variances.”

Ronald Hagey, a resident of Wellstone subdivision, which also borders the property, said he and other residents of his neighborhood had no problem with the variance for the Honda dealership, but did have one concern with the Kia site.

“We have met with the Sobh people, with Ethan, and they’ve been very helpful, very straight forward and they’re tried to work with us,” Hagey said. “We really don’t have many issues with them except for the buffer.”

He explained that the Kia site is planned to have a 25-foot buffer, but residents would like to see that increased.

However, Underwood said an increase is not possible since the buffer sits adjacent to a storm sewer, over which no trees can be planted.

Commissioners Jim Boff and Todd Levent asked if it would be possible for the Sobh family to leave an additional 15 feet on the opposite side of the storm sewer area, which would cut into the dealership’s parking area. 

“It is problematic because you’re asking somebody to give his land away,” Underwood said.

After some discussion, Boff moved to postpone the variance request and discussion of the buffer at the future Kia site until the group’s Feb. 20 meeting.