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New store to create 150 jobs
Project moves ahead after board relaxes design requirement
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Forsyth County News

Other business

Also Tuesday night, Forsyth County's planning board voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the following requests:

• Beazer Homes' rezoning of nearly 142 acres from agricultural to residential for 249 single-family homes near Old Atlanta Road and Bertha Drive.

• A 199-foot communication tower for T-Mobile South on about 7 acres near Spot Road and Dahlonega Highway.

•  BD Dog Properties' rezoning of 6 acres at 5055 Hammond Drive from industrial to a commercial business district with a conditional use permit.

• What's next: The recommendations go to the Forsyth County commission for consideration at its Feb. 17 meeting.

-- Julie Arrington

It appears a sporting goods store will be setting up shop at The Avenue Forsyth.

Representatives of Academy Sports + Outdoors asked Forsyth County's planning board Tuesday night for permission to tweak design requirements in the Peachtree Parkway Overlay District.

The district requires that the exterior of stores at the outdoor shopping mall in south Forsyth be 75 percent brick, stone and glass, while Academy's plan calls for 45 percent.

The five-member board unanimously approved the request.

"I think because of the project's location within an existing master planned development that consists of more than 500,000 square feet of commercial building space that justifies approval of the proposed alternate design review," said Pam Livesay, chairwoman.

The planning commission has the final say on alternative design reviews, so the matter is not required to go before the county commission.

Livesay said the planning board received Academy's request during the public work session a week earlier.

Prior to the vote, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce President James McCoy spoke in favor of the store, which will be near the mall's movie theater.

He noted it will bring 150 new jobs to the community, which has seen its unemployment rate more than double over the last four years, plus 300 construction positions.

He also said the store will generate an estimated $19 million in revenue.

"We know this project is absolutely important to the community," he said. "I should also point out that it has been a long time -- I believe it's been over a year -- since a project of this magnitude has expressed interest in our community.

"It's my opinion we should do everything we can within the confines of what is appropriate to make that happen."

Claudia Castro of Smart Growth Forsyth expressed some concerns about the way the request had been handled.

She said no one from the community had been contacted about the project, whose summary states only that Academy asks to "remove an existing building and reconstruct a 71,796-square-foot commercial building with associated parking."

Castro said drawings were not available until Monday afternoon, less than a day before talks began with the board.

"I was told today, 'You people, the minute you hear the word change, you scream no.' And I would respectfully say we say wait, stop, think, discuss, invite," she said.

"Invite the community, the members whom you invited to create this overlay in the first place."