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Final hearing set on Buford Highway Overlay District

EAST FORSYTH — A set of design standards for one of Forsyth County’s busiest east-west corridors is closer to being implemented.

During a recent meeting, the county commission held a third public hearing on the proposed Buford Highway Overlay District.

Recommendations for the road, also known as Hwy. 20, were made by a committee selected by the commission.

The proposed guidelines were then discussed with stakeholders after they raised concerns at a previous public hearing.

As a result of those talks, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said another public hearing would need to take place on May 19.

“What we have published to the citizens has continued to be modified as the stakeholder committee has met, to the point that I think it is different enough than what was advertised that we need to have one more [public hearing],” Jarrard said.

The overlay, stretching from Nuckolls Road to the Chattahoochee River, would establish an area in which anything that is built along the highway must adhere to specific lighting, landscaping, building materials and other standards.

One of the bigger issues surrounding the overlay was whether to prohibit large scale retail, or “big box,” stores along the corridor.

If approved under the current guidelines, those stores would not be banned for the entire overlay district, just east of East Echols Road.

Tim Dineen, who was a member of the overlay committee, said the plan worked for all involved in those stakeholder meetings.

“It secures the needs of landowners, enhances the aesthetic character of the area, provides a foundation for responsible and attractive development and protects area homeowners from intrusive commercialism,” he said during the commissioners’ meeting April 21.

Commissioner Jim Boff, who represents the area and spearheaded the effort, thanked all those who had a part in the process.