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Plan for hotel next to South Forsyth High School raises concern
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Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH — A potential hotel next to South Forsyth High has prompted concern with school officials over a zoning condition amendment currently under consideration with the Board of Commissioners.

Brannon South Partners LLC asked in application AZ150021 to change a condition that was included in the original rezoning application, which was approved in 2010.

Conditions currently prohibit hotels or motels, 24-hour businesses, gaming centers, adult novelty or entertainment stores, pawn shops, pool halls, tattoo parlors or businesses serving alcohol to be developed next to the school.

The requested change was originally to allow for a hotel or motel, which is a 24-hour business, that could sell alcohol.

County commissioners voted last month to postpone the application – condition amendments do not pass through the planning commission first – to receive feedback from the school board.

Not allowing alcohol was the biggest concern, the BOE agreed, but that request has been dropped, according to Kristin Morrissey, BOE member for south Forsyth’s District 2.

The 15,200-square-foot, four-floor, 120-room hotel sits next to South’s softball field, behind the Dunkin’ Donuts on Peachtree Parkway (Hwy. 141) near the intersection with Ronald Reagan Blvd.

“The commissioners asked us if we have an opinion, but once alcohol was removed from the equation, I didn’t want to speak on behalf of the entire Board of Education,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said.

Once the alcohol permit was dropped, the biggest consensus between board members was the need for a fence to separate the school from the adjacent property.

There is already a fence in areas of the property border and a retention wall and pond.

Morrissey said another point of concern is the quality of the hotel that would be built. She wanted to know if other board members were against the business becoming an extended-stay motel.

“It’s in the language,” she said. “If they can stay for 35 days, can they check out and right back in and just have to change rooms?”

On the other side of that argument, she said, contractors and vendors who work on the school or in the area may be attracted to an extended-stay hotel.

The BOE could either come out for or against the amendment request, she said, but they could also give conditions and preferences they want, knowing the hotel may go in regardless.

Ideas along those lines included asking the hotel not to advertise extended-stay rates and to provide definitions and criteria for long-term room rentals.

The county commission is expected to vote on this request after a public hearing on Thursday.