SOUTH FORSYTH — Cheers filled the Forsyth County commission meeting room Thursday night after commissioners denied amended zoning conditions that would have cleared the way for an auto body repair shop in south Forsyth.
The vote was 4-0, with Cindy Jones Mills absent, to reject the request from Classic Collision for a site at Stoney Point Road and Peachtree Parkway.
For the past several commission meetings, more than 100 red-clad residents from neighborhoods near the property had come out in droves to oppose the center.
Speaking for the group, known as the Concerned Citizens of South Forsyth County, Elizabeth Pehrson addressed commissioners Thursday during a public hearing before the vote.
As she had at previous meetings, Pehrson noted that the site was zoned in 2008 for a car wash, with much input from neighbors. She said the zoning amendments would have changed or removed several of the conditions placed on the site six years earlier.
“Nothing has changed since that time to support changing these conditions,” she said Thursday. “In fact now there are more residential neighborhoods in close proximity along Stoney Point Road than there were back then, therefore even more reason to keep these conditions intact.”
Besides Pehrson, several other residents spoke against the project, citing concerns ranging from environmental hazards and noise and traffic issues to reduced property values and lack of proper buffers.
However, Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing the property owners, said his client had created a new site plan that restored a 50-foot buffer and a 5-foot berm that had previously been removed.
In the end, Commissioner Brian Tam sided with the residents, making a motion to deny amending the zoning conditions.
“The current proposal … does not provide the same degree of protection to nearby adjacent property owners as those conditions that exist today,” Tam said.
He added that he had personally reviewed the revised site plan to which Underwood had referred, but didn’t find it sufficient.
“[I] do not believe it addresses the issues that are vital to the residents,” he said.
Pehrson was thrilled with the commission’s decision.
“All 1,000-plus of us [homeowners in the area] are just elated because we put in a lot of hard work to fight for our rights and to fight for the homeowners’ protection of their land,” she said.
“I’m so proud of our commissioners for sticking by those [conditions that were put in place in 2008] to protect us.”
Jim Floyd, who lives across Stoney Point from the site, said he was also pleased with the outcome.
“It’s just been so monumental to lead up to this [vote],” he said. “I’m just grateful that the board of commissioners heard the people. More than anything else, I’m grateful that they listened.”