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Proposed senior living center in southwest Forsyth clears planning board

SOUTHWEST FORSYTH — A proposed 28-acre senior living housing development in southwest Forsyth with a range of residential units passed the local planning board Tuesday and moves onto the county commission.

Forsyth Senior Living LLC is asking to rezone the property on Atlanta Highway and Mars Hills Road — across the street from Traditions, a massive mixed-use subdivision under construction — to build 15 residential lots, 32 duplex units, 14 attached residential units and 182 multi-family units in an urban village zoning with a conditional use permit.

As proposed, building space would total 173,389 square feet with 182 parking spaces.

The property is currently zoned as agricultural district, restricted industrial district and single family residential R1 district.

The 4-0 vote, with the District 3 seat vacant, to recommend the county commission approve the request included six variances, which reduce frontage and setback requirements.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing the applicant, contended the variances were required to create the various products the developer wants, including garden homes and stacked flats.

The density and number of units would stay the same without the variances, Underwood said, but the proposal would lose the aesthetic value and uniqueness.

Senior citizens are typically exempt from paying school taxes. However, Underwood noted the development would be all rental units, meaning the property owner would pay school taxes and charge rent.

Planners recommended the variances be contingent to the proposed site plan so another developer could not buy the property and inherit them.

A resident who spoke out against the variances said he was concerned the county’s planning code was being ignored.

“Our [unified development code] is strictly written,” said District 4 planning member Alan Neal, “but if there’s never latitude, everything will eventually look the same.”

The commission is expected to review the application Feb. 18.