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Big Creek project moves along
Board's decision concerns neighbor
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Forsyth County News

A large, mixed-use development in south Forsyth has received the go-ahead from the county commission, much to the dismay of other developers who fear for the quality of their nearby project.

In a 5-0 vote, the board approved Diversified Real Estate Group's request to rezone 121 acres at Ga. 400 and McFarland Road to a master planned district for the Commons at Big Creek.

The developer's plan calls for three 115-room hotels, 530 apartments and office and real estate space.

A representative from neighboring developers Taubman Inc. said they were "concerned" with Thursday night's decision.

"[The board's] actions tonight are a concern to us because we believe they will degrade the quality of the development adjoining ours," said Mark Putney after the vote.

Taubman's project, just south of Diversified's site, is billed as an upscale live-work-play community on 164 acres between Union Hill and McFarland roads. It includes hotels, shopping and about 875 residential units.

Taubman representatives have previously cited traffic and density concerns with the neighboring project. Specifically, they worry that Diversified wants to build too many apartments.

Thursday, Chairman Charles Laughinghouse voiced some concern about the new development's proximity to Big Creek, but moved forward in the end.

"You can't get much closer to Big Creek than y'all are located," Laughinghouse told representatives of Diversified.

"There is great concern about the water quality. Are you going to guarantee that water quality in Big Creek will be greater or equal to what it is today?"

Commissioner Patrick Bell said that was an unfair question to ask of the developer.

"Mr. Chairman, he can't guarantee what the water quality will be like," Bell said.

Putney, Taubman's vice president of development, has questioned the Diversified proposal since it first went to the planning commission.

Commissioners approved a development agreement in December 2008 with Taubman that detailed the give-and-take between county and developer.

In August 2008, commissioners approved an easement agreement that outlined the basics of the county's intent to begin work on the southern end of Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Farther back, the commission granted an overlay district, or an amendment to the county code, that allows Taubman to erect buildings as tall as 12 stories on the site.

E-mail Frank Reddy at