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Coal Mountain Overlay headed to public hearings
Commissioners approve updated draft
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Forsyth County commissioners responded favorably to a presentation of the Coal Mountain Overlay, a draft of which was completed in early March.

At a Board of Commissioners work session Tuesday, Heather Ryan, a planner for the Forsyth County Planning and Community Development Department, presented the overlay design to the board.

“This really will share some similarities with the Peachtree Parkway Overlay,” she said. “The landscape standards were created based on the perspective that [Hwy.] 369 is the signature transportation corridor, but it was different in its process in that the Coal Mountain Overlay was developed based on the recommendations of the [Coal Mountain] committee.”

In late March, commissioners unanimously voted to have county staff move forward with creation of the overlay and bring it back to a future meeting, which was Tuesday’s presentation.

The draft is the result of about six weeks of work by committee members, the focus of which was largely on landscape, architecture and future use design standards.

“The purpose of this overlay is to foster visual unity through and elevated level of design quality applied throughout the district while simultaneously fostering the individuality of three distinct character nodes whose unique identity has come about through history settlement and land use,” the draft states. “The Coal Mountain Overlay seeks to highlight and promote the character of these nodes.”

The three nodes, or areas with different standards on Hwy. 369 (Browns Bridge Road), include: a Matt node from Barrett Road to Heardmont Trace Road; a Coal Mountain node from about Gravitt Road to the Ga. 400 intersection; and a Hammond’s Crossing node from the Ga. 400 intersection eastward to about Mashburn Drive.

Most commercial-zoned properties that would be affected by the overlay are currently under a moratorium on the acceptance of land disturbance permits, which was approved in December 2016 and affects parcels in Districts 1, 4 and 5.

At Tuesday’s work session, Ryan detailed permitted uses within the overlay, site design standards and architectural design standards.

While a list of non-permitted commercial uses included what are commonly known as “nasties” – tattoo parlors, adult entertainment centers, pawn shops, arcades and more – Ryan said the committee also added three other prohibited uses: building supply yards, fuel tank lease and sales establishments and vehicle sales and dealerships.

One item missing from the “no nasties” list was massage parlors, something with which the county has run into problems for being sites of illicit activity.

Commission Chairman Todd Levent suggested adding it to the list.

Ryan also said a 20-foot landscape strip will be required on the Hwy. 369 corridor, and other arterials will require a 15-foot landscape strip.

Though the board liked the design, commissioners asked Ryan and Tom Brown, the county’s director of planning and community development, to dive deeper into the architectural requirements to ensure there will be no strip malls in the area.

The board unanimously voted to move the plan – with the requested additions and changes – to public hearing.

Two public hearings for the overlay will be held to allow for community participation. The dates have not yet been set.