Also during their meeting Thursday night, Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the following:
• The fiscal year 2013 budget. A public hearing was held earlier this month on the $89.6 million spending plan.
• Sobh Automotive’s request to amend 84 zoning conditions for property on Hwy. 20, near Nuckolls and Sanders roads, that will eventually house a Honda dealership. The decision followed a public hearing on the issue.
• Postpone rezoning requests from the Ryland Group Inc., Transmitter Road LLC and confirmation of reappointments to the board of ethics.
— Crystal Ledford
The Forsyth County commission on Thursday night approved a measure that could eventually lead to a new apartment complex along Hwy. 20 east of Cumming.
In a 3-2 vote, Commissioners Patrick Bell, Todd Levent and Brian Tam voted in favor of amending zoning conditions on a tract of about 34 acres near Holly Court and Trammel Road.
Emory Lipscomb, an attorney representing GJ Enterprises Acquisitions LLC, which owns the property, said a townhome community was originally planned on about 13 acres of the site.
But in light of the down economy of recent years, the owners want to instead build an apartment complex.
“This property was originally zoned in 2006 … as you know in 2006 and 2007, the county and the country were in the midst of a continuing economic uptick that had been going on for several years,” Lipscomb said.
“Unfortunately, this property was one of those that thought [that uptick] was going to continue always and so as a result of that there was a request for the residential component of this property to be built as townhomes at a density of 5.28 townhomes to the acre and that was later changed in 2007 … to build larger townhomes and that didn’t work either.”
Lipscomb said the owners see high-end apartments as the best fit for the 13 acres, largely due to its proximity to Northside Hospital-Forsyth and other medical facilities, which provide many jobs.
GJ Enterprises’ request Thursday was to amend and delete some conditions that had previously been placed on the project when it called for townhomes.
Several neighbors of the property, particularly those who live on Holly Court, spoke against the development and asked commissioners to deny the zoning amendment request.
Among their concerns were the increased traffic an apartment community could create and an unsafe right turn out of the complex onto Holly Court.
Some also expressed concern that the complex could raise crime rates in the area and reduce their quality of life.
Ultimately, Boff made a motion to deny the request, which failed to receive a second.
Bell then made the motion, which passed 3-2, to approve the request with several conditions.
Among them: the complex would be built with certain exterior wall materials; security fences would surround it; and one apartment would be made available for a law enforcement officer to live on site.
Bell’s motion also included a condition that Holly Court could only be used for access to the complex after a scheduled state Department of Transportation improvement, which likely will not begin until at least 2014.
In addition, after the apartments are finished, those driving out of the complex would only be allowed to make a left turn onto Holly Court.