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Neighbors wary of surprise alternative
Board will revisit Daves Creek issue
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also during its meeting Tuesday night, Forsyth County’s planning board:

* Set a second public hearing on proposed changes to the unified development code for June 25. The next hearing will also include a draft to allow up to 18 inches of overhang to encroach into the minimum distance required between homes.

* Postponed a decision on an assisted living facility conditional use permit for Michael Clements since the board had not heard from the applicant. The vote was 3-2, with Joe Moses and Craig Nolen opposed to the delay.

* Granted a home occupation permit for Stuart Garner to operate a watercraft repair business on Dawsonville Highway. Moses was the lone opposition.

* Recommended approval of a rezoning from master planned district to Res-4 for SR Homes LLC for 125 homes with a density of about 2 units per acre. The proposed development on Majors Road was originally part of a commercial-residential hybrid project known as Venable Hall.


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


-- Alyssa LaRenzie

An alternative plan presented during a rezoning hearing Tuesday night caught residents by surprise and led Forsyth County’s planning board to postpone its decision.

Developer 88 Daves Creek LLC applied in March for a rezoning from agricultural to Res-6, the county’s highest density residential zoning, for 378 attached and detached homes on Daves Creek Drive.

A group of more than 70 residents gathered at the planning board’s meeting Tuesday to protest the high-density proposal.

However, attorney Emory Lipscomb showed a new site plan and requested that the planning board consider a less-dense zoning of Res-4, a step below the county’s Res-6, which does not allow for attached homes.

Lipscomb said the original plan drew concern from residents in an April public participation meeting, as well as subsequent talks with county officials.

“We received many suggestions that this was the wrong zoning district and this was the wrong number of units,” he said. “It became very apparent that there was a great number of people who were very much dissatisfied with the zoning as it was proposed.”

The alternative plan for a Res-4 zoning includes 267 single family homes with a density of 3.2 units per acre.

The original plan calls for 378 fee-simple town homes, of which about 70 percent would be attached units and 30 percent detached, with a density of 4.5 units per acre.

Attorney Paul Fricke explained that while the board is still “formally reviewing” the application to rezone to Res-6, it can rezone up to anything less intense, and in this case the applicant presented a suggestion.

“Probably the better process would have been to present the new plan pursuant to the procedures for a change in the plan,” Fricke said. “But they have simply asked the board to consider complying with their power to adopt a less intense district.

Residents were not sold on the new plan, which had not previously been made public.

Mo Delhey, who lives on neighboring Vicki Lane, called the new presentation “essentially a bait and switch.”

Windermere resident Paul Taylor agreed that the process should be restarted with a new application so the community can take time to review it.

He likened the night-of plan change to a doctor telling him he’d lose a leg from the hip down, and when he returned for the operation, he was given “great news” that he’d only lose it from the leg down.

Gabriele Pollmeier said the move was “shove[d] under the door” to make the second proposal appear to be “a good deal.”

Residents cited concerns that a large, dense residential development would negatively impact traffic, school capacity and property values.

The single entrance onto Daves Creek Drive was especially troubling to those who spoke.

The planning board voted unsuccessfully on three recommendations to send the county commission before deciding 5-0 to postpone the matter to June 25.
Board member Joe Moses made two similar motions for a Res-3 rezoning with a 2.2 unit per acre density, the first of which garnered just one other vote in favor from Alan Neal.

The other motion came from Craig Nolen, who recommended Res-4 with a 3.2 density, as the developer had suggested. Chairwoman Pam Bowman was the only other vote in favor.

Residents in the crowd called out “shame on you” as that motion came to a vote.

Though the decision was postponed, planning director Tom Brown said the staff would not conduct any further review of the revised proposal since no new application has been submitted.