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Plans for Walmart in south Forsyth approved
Retailer receives flexibility on parking
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County planning department on Monday approved a site development permit for a Walmart supercenter in south Forsyth.

Plans for the nearly 178,000-square-foot structure on 24 acres at Peachtree and Mathis Airport parkways will include the retailer and three outparcels.

A site development permit allows a developer to make all the improvements to the land as indicated in the plans, but not the building, which requires a separate permit.

The company submitted the permit request in June and resubmitted earlier this month when the initial six-month period for approval had expired.

The staff required only minor changes to the submitted plan, such as moving some trees to shade the trash receptacles, said Tom Brown, director of planning and community development.

Since the store falls under the Peachtree Parkway Overlay District, the staff also compared the plans to those aesthetic requirements during its review, Brown said.

One of those requirements sets a maximum of 60 percent of parking at the front of the store, but Walmart received flexibility on that standard only, Brown said.

“Because of some obligations where they had a right to keep an existing pond and a right to have an expectation for a store of a certain size,” he said, “they couldn’t make all those things work and comply with the limitation on the parking in the front of the store.”

The site development plans show entrances to the store from Peachtree and Mathis Airport parkways.

The lot would include 791 parking spaces, all of which were shown between the store and Peachtree Parkway.

Commissioner Brian Tam said he expects “mixed feelings” from nearby residents on the issue of parking, but moving some spots to the back “could adversely affect the existing and future residential properties” neighboring the site.

Also, the store made a case that the site had been rezoned, the site plan approved and money spent prior to the implementation of the Peachtree Parkway Overlay District, Tam said.

The actual building will be expected to comply “with all architectural aspects of the Peachtree Parkway Overlay,” he said.

The proposed site is zoned commercial as a result of a county-initiated rezoning in late 2006 as an alternate location to Walmart's original planned site, which was at what has since become Mathis Airport Road near the Laurel Springs subdivision.

The store withdrew those plans in 2007 and submitted the permit request for the county-rezoned property this year.

“This is the site that the community supported six years ago,” Tam said.

During the application process, staff reviewed the plans to ensure all zoning conditions, water and sewer needs, necessary road improvements and other requirements are met in the plans.

The issued permit will expire in one year, with an opportunity to renew for another year, Brown said. The time limit exists so if a developer has to reapply, the new permit application would be subject to any county standards that may have changed, he said.

A Walmart spokesman said earlier this month that it’s not known when construction could start, adding that it typically takes a year to complete a store once all the permits have been approved.