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Automation Direct looking to expand in north Forsyth
auto direct

NORTH FORSYTH -- An e-commerce business with ties to Forsyth County is looking to expand in the area.

Forsyth County’s planning board discussed a zoning application Tuesday for a proposed warehouse on Church Road, which is just west of Ga. 400 between Settingdown and Hopewell roads, totaling 280,000 square feet.

AutomationDirect.com Inc. has requested to rezone 20 acres from single family residential Res-3 district and single family residential Res-4 district to a restricted industrial district, or M1, for the warehouse and additional office space totaling just more than 6,500 square feet with 93 parking spaces and an open storage yard.

The company is also requesting zoning variances along the rear property line, as well as to reduce the number of required parking spaces on the property.

Because the company is an online business, the building would be a warehouse from which they will ship products.

“This is not where the public will be,” said Robert Hoyt, planning representative for east Forsyth’s District 5. “This is where their supplies will be. It won’t be a retail store.”

But although the warehouse would not see the traffic a more traditional business may create, Hoyt was mindful of the impact shipping trucks might have on the neighbors.

“Are the trucks coming in there, and would they be making their diesel truck noises at a time when these folks are still asleep?” he said.

He also said he was worried about the trucks idling during the winter and, again, disturbing the neighbors.

The board’s biggest concern, however, was tractor trailer staging the company would set up toward the front of the property that would be visible from the road.

A 25-foot landscaping strip could alleviate the problem, Bettina Hammond, board member for District 4 in north Forsyth, suggested.

The county’s planning and community development staff was not supportive of the application, writing, “The suburban living character area is primarily for residential land uses with some compatible secondary land uses. The intensity of the office and warehouse proposal is too intense for this location … a more suitable area is more appropriate.”

Board members agreed that no matter the outcome of the public hearing, during which they may vote to approve or deny the application, they would like to see the company remain in Forsyth County.

“I think it’s great they’re staying,” Hammond said.

“A very charitable company,” said another.

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30, after which their vote will serve as a recommendation for the Board of Commissioners, which will ultimately decide the fate of the rezoning request.

The proposal is scheduled to appear before the BOC on Sept. 15.