Forsyth County officials got their first chance this week to look at draft of the update to the county’s comprehensive plan, which is in the process of being updated.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, planning commission, District 2 sub-area planning board and the presumed incoming District 2 and 5 commissioners held a called joint meeting on Tuesday with representatives of Foster Forsyth, the name of the 20-year plan, to discuss a second draft, which was released on Sept. 12.
“One thing we have certainly emphasized to the community is that until adoption this is still a draft plan,” said Amanda Hatton of Jacobs Engineering.
The plan seeks to guide policy over a 20-year period and provide a strategy for growth and development. Forsyth County contracted Jacobs Engineering and Kimley-Horn and Associates to devise the plan.
Since April, Foster Forsyth has held several meetings with community members, with nearly 1,000 coming to events and more than 4,800 responding to a community survey.
Foster Forsyth is driven by members of its vision and steering committees, who have concluded their meetings.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the plan was presented before the boards and allowed members to ask questions and give feedback on what it proposes.
As it was the first overview, officials had more questions on the update than direct comments.
“I’m looking at all this information that you formulated, I’m assuming, from the citizen input, and I’m concerned that the age bracket might have been skewed,” said Mitch Copman, District 2 sub-area board member.
Hatton said the majority of respondents were in their mid-30s and up.
One of the most visible changes in the update is splitting the county into 11 distinct areas, typically named after a community or landmark and regional, community and neighborhood nodes, or areas with specified zoning standards.
The character areas are McFarland, South Ga. 400, Big Creek, Haw Creek, Lanier, Vickery Creek, Campground, North Ga. 400, Chestatee/ Jot Em Down, Etowah and Sawnee Mountain.
The day before the meeting, Foster Forsyth debuted its latest draft of the plan based on public comments at two open houses held in late August.
Some Forsyth County residents said they felt their home was better represented by a neighboring character area — Vickery Creek and Campground traded some areas after community input.
One of the most visible changes is for areas on Kelly Mill Road and north of Big Creek, which will be part of Campground.
The description of the location of Big Creek was also changed from “extending northward to the southern side of Buford Highway” to “extending northward to Old Atlanta Highway and Joint Venture Park.”
A character goal for Vickery Creek changed to focus more from encouraging commercial services near the intersection of Bethelview and Castleberry roads than the city of Cumming.
The update also clarified that the Drew community node was in Vickery Creek rather than Campground.
Other changes were more one-sided, as parcels changed from North Ga. 400 to Sawnee Mountain, Campground to McFarland and Big Creek to Haw Creek.
A Windermere neighborhood node was also added to Haw Creek, and the area could also see a name change based on community input.
“The majority of what is historically known as Daves Creek is in the Haw Creek area,” said Eric Bosman of Kimley-Horn. “We did receive a recommendation from a community member … that the Haw Creek area might need to be referred to as Haw Creek/Daves Creek.”
Office commercial multiple story district, or OCMS, zonings were deemed “too intense” for the McFarland character area, the Peachtree Parkway node in Big Creek, the Haw Creek community node, North Ga. 400 character area and the Vickery Creek and Castleberry/Bethelview community node.
A proposed mixed-use district with 12 units per acre, or MU12, was also removed from the Peachtree Parkway node due to intensity.
Conversely, mining operation district, or MINE, zonings were added to South Ga. 400, as it is in the character area today.
Updating the plan also consists of implementation and action plans to make the vision a reality — changes to which involved updating languages for proposed new ordinances.
Foster Forsyth recommends that the county add a new ordinance for tree protection and replanting standards, to reduce mass grading for developments larger than 10 acres or 20 homes and for updating zoning districts and the zoning review process.
The draft is scheduled to next go before the planning board for a public hearing on Sept. 27, though Hatton said that date may change.
The planning board should make its recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on Oct. 25.
A public hearing before county commissioners is scheduled for Dec. 1, and the plan will go for regional and state approval after that. The BOC will vote on the plan on March 1, after the two incoming commissioners have taken office.
For a copy of the draft and more information, go to FosterForsyth.com.