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Contentious rezoning clears planning board
County commission will review plan next
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH COUNTY — A green-clad crowd filled the Forsyth County Administration Building on Tuesday night for the county’s planning board meeting.

The group, made up mostly of residents from the Grand Cascades and Champions Run subdivisions in south Forsyth, was there in solidarity against a residential development proposed nearby that they fear is too dense and could cause sediment issues.

Ridgeline Lane Planning Inc. is seeking permission to build 32-single family residential lots on a 21.7-acre property at Settles Road and Thunder Gulch Pass.

After much discussion, the planning board backed the county staff’s findings and voted 3-2 to recommend that the county commission approve the project. Board members Pam Bowman and Greg Dolezal opposed the measure.

Earlier in the evening, attorney Emory Lipscomb, representing Ridgeline, spoke before the board in favor of zoning the property from an agricultural district to Residential 3.

According to Lipscomb, the project originally called for 43 lots. That figure, however, was revised to 32, or about 1.47 homes per acre, after meetings with residents of the neighboring subdivisions.

Grand Cascades resident Jeff Meadows said while Lipscomb was very agreeable to meetings, the size of the lots on the proposed development are “just not acceptable.”

“We can’t accept that at this point,” he said, adding that the planning board should instead approve a Res 2 rezoning, with 18,500 square foot lot sizes.

Meadows’ concerns were shared by other speakers, who also mentioned the potential sediment impact. One resident said the property’s owners would not allow soil samples to be taken so Grand Cascades residents could have a water report conducted.

One of the property owners, Phillip Baker, countered that the residents were allowed to inspect the property, but “they stalled.”

Baker added that the construction of the opponents’ subdivision was itself responsible for the sediment problem, which has nearly filled his own pond with silt.

Lipscomb acknowledged that protecting streams and preventing sediment from entering the county’s water is “a big-time issue.”

While the planning board ultimately voted in favor of Ridgeline’s request, it was not an easy process.

As one of several conditions the project must meet, Grand Cascades residents will be allowed to collect soil samples.

There were also multiple failed amendments made by planning board members Jayne Iglesias and Dolezal to increase the minimum lot sizes, each time resulting in a chorus of boos from the crowd.

On the final attempt, planning board member Robert Hoyt agreed, allowing the minimum lot size to be increased from 12,500 to 14,500 square feet.