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Rezoning of Mathis Airport site in holding pattern
Owners want to build subdivision there
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Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH — The fate of Forsyth’s lone airport is being weighed by the county commission.

Commissioners recently held a public hearing on a request to rezone the property on which Mathis Airport sits in south Forsyth.

The owners want to rezone the site, some 21 acres off Mathis Airport Drive, from agricultural to residential in order to develop a subdivision. They also are seeking a variance to reduce the front setback to 10 feet.

The county’s planning board has recommended the commission deny the request.

While they heard from several residents on the issue during the hearing, commissioners voted to postpone their decision on the matter until next month.

According to Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing the owners, his clients have revised their proposal in response to residents’ concerns about the development’s impact on the school system.

Underwood said the owners want to reduce the zoning from a Residential 4, or Res4, to Res3 and change the number of residences from 66 townhomes to 48 single-family homes.

He said they also wished to change to an “age-restricted community,” meaning homeowners would have to be a certain age or older.

In his argument that the development would be appropriate for the area, Underwood cited several developments with similar zonings and densities in the area.

“This fits very well,” he said. “It’s a low to moderate density development in an area that’s got a good mixture and proves that you can have large lots next to smaller lots and preserve property values.”

Some neighbors of the airport disagreed.

“I do not think Res3 works for this area,” Dennis Pigg said. “I’ve got 16 acres and the house right next to me has 5 acres, the house behind me has got 5 acres.

“I don’t understand why [Underwood] keeps saying everything around this has that kind of density. It does not have that kind of density.”

Another neighbor, Marilyn Cheek, said that most of the subdivisions in the immediate area, including Laurel Springs and Hunter’s Run, are against Res3 zonings in the area.

“It looks like the majority of people [in this area] have spoken out against [them],” she said.

Victor Yarborough is one of several pilots who own hangers at the airport.

“We own the hangers, we lease the land,” he said. “Obviously, we’d like to see it remain an airport. If this goes away, there’s no good alternative for us in the county. This is the only airport.

“It’s been an airport for 40 years. It’s not a real active airport … you can’t fly twin-engine airplanes in there or jet airplanes. It’s just a good country airport and we’d like to see it remain that way.”

Commissioner Brian Tam, in whose district the airport falls, said he wanted to postpone the rezoning decision from July 17 to Aug. 21.