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Commissioners extend north Forsyth moratorium for one year
Forsyth County

Forsyth County Commissioners have decided to extend a north Forsyth moratorium for up to a year. 

On Thursday, commissioners voted 5-0 to extend a moratorium — or temporary prohibition — on the acceptance of land disturbance permit applications for residential properties in District 4, north Forsyth, zoned between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2012 until Nov. 16, 2018. 

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the moratorium is in place to deal with architectural standards on old zonings.

“You may recall the basis underlying this moratorium was the creation of enhanced architectural standards for what we call old, spec, historic zonings or even zonings that got caught up in the Great Recession,” he said. “Whatever the reason may have been, there are zonings that are out there and a lot of them are bereft of any zoning conditions.” 

In other business:

The following items were approved at Thursday’s meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. All votes are 5-0 unless otherwise noted. Commissioners…

• Selected District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson as the commission’s vice chair and District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown, who was serving in his first meeting, as secretary.

• Voted, with District 2 Commissioner Laura Semanson opposed, to rezone about 22 acres on Old Atlanta Road from Single Family Residential District (RES3) and Agricultural District (A1) to Single Family Residential District (RES3) for 34 residential lots. 

• Moved ahead with an agreement for the purchase of about an acre of land with a three-story office building to be used for county business at 425 Tribble Gap Road. The total cost is estimated at $790,000. 

— In addition, the county approved the 2018 budget. See the Wednesday print edition of the Forsyth County News for complete coverage.

The moratorium was first approved on Aug. 3 and extended two weeks ago.  

Jarrard said a consultant was lined up and was expected to take a minimum of seven months to get back recommendations, which must then be vetted by his office and county staff.

“My experience with ‘seven or eight months’ is actually 11 months,” Jarrard said. “By the time I got it back from 11 months and got it to you, got it to planning commission or got it vetted to my office, my concern was even a year might not be enough.”

If any property is rezoned to a current residential zoning — which has new standards the older zonings do not — Jarrard said the moratorium would no longer apply. 

He said the moratorium would still apply if commissioners approved a zoning condition amendment since that did not change the underlying zoning.

A public hearing was held ahead of the final vote, and the only speaker was Ethan Underwood — an attorney with Miles, Hansford and Tallant who often represents developers before the commission — who spoke against the extension.

“I would like to challenge the notion that it takes 10 to 12 months to pass architectural standards, because I can negotiate that with you in four,” said Ethan Underwood, adding, “Frankly, I think this is a moratorium to try to forces us to rezone applications to lower intensity zonings.”

Underwood said he would like language in the moratorium allowing developments to move forward if commissioners approved the zoning standards.

No change was made, but when responding to questions from commissioners, Jarrard said the moratorium could be amended at any time after adoption.