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BOC reverses course on expired covenants
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to:

• Postpone a decision on rezoning a 1.3-acre site on Mathis Airport Parkway from neighborhood shopping to commercial business district. Developers want to build a Zaxby’s restaurant there. Associated decisions on zoning condition amendments for neighboring properties were also delayed to Nov. 3.

• Approve a conditional use permit for BD Dog Properties for an open storage yard for truck, trailer and heavy equipment sales on 5.3 acres along Hwy. 306.

• Ratify the first public safety notification agreement under a recent code change allowing billboard owners to upgrade to digital without a reduction in size. In return, owners will display public safety messages. The agreement, approved in the consent agenda, was for Colima Bay.

Alyssa LaRenzie

After more thought, the Forsyth County commission opted against considering expired covenants in zoning applications.

They voted 3-2 on Thursday to not proceed with public hearings about adding expired covenants to the list of factors for consideration in the county’s unified development code.

The commission had previously initiated the modification in a 4-1 nonbinding vote at an Oct. 11 work session.

Commissioner Patrick Bell voted against the measure in both instances, stating that covenants expire for a reason.

Since the vote was not unanimous at the work session, the matter must go up for discussion again at the next regular meeting, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.

“This would allow, but not require, expired covenants to get some weight,” Jarrard explained.

Two commissioners, Brian Tam and Pete Amos, voted in favor of the proposal at the work session, but changed their minds Thursday.

Tam said further consideration led him to his conclusion.

“If we do a zoning, whether the application is approved or denied, an adjacent property owner can raise the issue of expired covenants, and I don’t think that’s something we should look at for land use,” he said. “We have other tools.”

According to a memo from Jarrard and Planning Director Tom Brown, the proposed changes came about following a recent decision “where concerns were raised as to whether a particular faith-based community center was appropriate for placement in a particular subdivision.”

Though Jarrard declined to cite the specific example, the commission’s most recent vote fitting the criteria was a conditional use permit for Bridgepoint Community Networks.

Bridgepoint plans to build a 2,000-square-foot center at the Crystal Cove Shores subdivision in northeastern Forsyth.
In the situation referenced in the memo, the subdivision’s covenant restricting uses in the neighborhood had expired.

The county’s code currently allows the commission to consider valid covenants.

Commissioners also voted 5-0 to hold two public hearings on changing the definition of church in the unified development code.

The language currently defines a church as “a building or structure, or groups of buildings or structures, that design and construction are primarily intended for conducting organized religious services.”

The modification would change the second half to “are used for conducting organized religious services.”