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Commissioners approve zoning change for restaurant amidst traffic concerns
Commissioners recently approved plans that made way for a new drive-thru restaurant at Browns Bridge Road.

Forsyth County Commissioners recently approved plans that made way for a new drive-thru restaurant at Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369 east) but didn’t agree on everything.

At a recent meeting, commissioners voted 3-2, with Commissioners Todd Levent and Cindy Jones Mills opposed, to approve a zoning condition amendments for a property at 6730 Browns Bridge Road that would allow a drive-thru “with no voice amplification,” prohibited game rooms on the property and chose not to approve a requested change that would have allowed entrance or access to the property from Little Mill Road or Diana Circle until a final plan to widen Browns Bridge Road was approved by the state.

Commissioners had previously held a public hearing on the restaurant in February but decided not to make a decision at that time and to give both sides more time to hash out their issues.

“I did meet with both sides. I met with the applicant, I met with the neighborhood, and it’s all been pretty well laid out here,” said Chairwoman Laura Semanson. “The neighbors, as long as they feel like there’s some peace and quiet, the drive-up window is acceptable to them, but they didn’t really come to common ground on the side entrance.”

An official with the restaurant previously said it would not be a fast food chain and a breakfast restaurant is also being considered for the development.

Before the final vote, Mills said she disagreed with plans to only access the restaurant from Browns Bridge Road.

“I don’t understand why you don’t see there’s a safety concern before widening occurs,” Mills said. “We’re making them go left on a truck route. We’re making them go left when you know when a truck is approaching a red light, they’re speeding up, and we’re forcing people to turn 350 feet before a red light, instead of going out to the red light where they would have a signalized turn.”

Similarly, Levent said he could not “with a good conscience vote to put people’s lives in danger” to not have access to the other roads.

County Engineering Director John Cunard said “there has yet to be proven” a safety issue with access on Browns Bridge Road but “the issue that we have from the engineering standpoint, access to the signal would be safer to the public.”

Semanson, who was in favor of only having access from Browns Bridge, said, “the concern is the additional volume of traffic in that area is going to interfere with crossing that intersection.” 

Several neighbors spoke against the development at a previous meeting, saying it could lead to increased noise, more traffic and issues with parents dropping off and picking up kids from nearby Little Mill Middle School.

Resident Mike Rudolph spoke at the meeting against access from Browns Bridge.

“Community members are steadfast against this change,” he said. “This change would negatively impact all neighborhoods south of [Hwy.] 369 and Little Mill Road due to traffic, congestion and stacking of vehicles at the intersection. There simply is not enough room between Hwy. 369 and the proposed access point to this property.”