After months of meetings and planning, there are new zoning standards for some businesses in north Forsyth.
At a recent meeting, Forsyth County commissioners unanimously approved the Coal Mountain Overlay, which adds new standards for commercial businesses along Hwy. 369 (Browns Bridge Road) and surrounding areas. The plan details landscaping, architectural design, sign and other standards.
During the discussion, several public speakers made comments to the board.
“I think that this draft does reflect a lot of the discussions that were had between me and other members of the committee and has addressed a lot of the comments I have put in,” said Alan Neal of the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee.
North Forsyth landowner Andrew Plyler spoke against the overlay and said he has had issues selling property already and that he feels the new standards will make it even harder.
“The thing that I can’t understand is why people with torches and tar and feathers that live in this district are not marching on this,” he said. “I don’t know if I can imagine a system to diminish property values and make it less marketable.”
Changes were made at the meeting to remove landscape strip requirements for residential lots inside a subdivision, to change the maximum size of a canopy sign to be 12-feet-by-20-feet, to alter a screening requirement for drive-thrus and to make funds originally for median beautification for right-of-way beautification.
Certain business will no longer be allowed in the area including: massage parlors, vehicle sales and dealerships, pawn shops, tattoo parlors, building supply yards and fuel tank lease and sales establishments, among others.
Three nodes, or character areas, were added to the overlay. The nodes will go along Hwy. 369 between certain roads: 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.
The meeting also ended a moratorium on commercial zonings between the intersections of: Matt Highway (Hwy. 369 west) and Bannister Road to the west; Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306 east) and Dahlonega Highway (Hwy. 9) to the south; Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369 east) at Six Mile Creek to the east; and Hopewell Road and Hwy. 9 to the north.
Parcels at the intersection of Elmo Road, Matt Highway and Bannister Road were added at a later work session. The moratorium only applied to commercial and office districts.
“The moratorium ends, as a matter of law, upon the adoption [of the overlay],” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.
The Coal Mountain Overlay Committee gave its final recommendation to commissioners in March. The group and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills held several meetings earlier this year to give input and determine recommendations.