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County holds off on mall vote again
Both sides say deal is close
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also at Thursday's regular meeting, the Forsyth County commission voted to approve:

• Matt Highway Investors' request to amend zoning conditions and variances on 10 acres at Matt Highway and Wallace Tatum Road.

• Request by Elliott Smith on behalf of Alvaro Lievano for a public hearing on appeals board's denial of a side yard setback variance for 3 acres on Heardsville Road.

• Accessory use at Northside Family Worship Center to add a Sunday school building.

• Conditional use permit for an open storage yard on property zoned commercial on Canton Highway near Aaron Sosbee Road.

• Separate home occupation permits for: David B. Daniel's home-based business to repair marine engines and systems on Truman Mountain Road; and Connie C. Waters' screen printing business on Lakeside Lane. Both sites are zoned agricultural.

The board also approved the following rezonings:

* Henry Watson, agricultural to neighborhood shopping, 2.65 acres near Keith Bridge and Jot Em Down roads for a day care. Passed 4-1 with Chairman Charles Laughinghouse opposed.

• Zibi Kulikowski, residential to commercial, 3.8 acres near Browns Bridge and Shady Grove roads for a warehouse. Vote was 3-2 with commissioners Jim Harrell and Laughinghouse opposed.

• Matt Highway Investors, agricultural to commercial, 6.8 acres near Matt Highway and Wallace Tatum Road for retail, restaurant, office space and fuel center. Passed 3-2 with commissioners Harrell and Laughinghouse opposed.

• Paul Mashburn, residential to commercial, 3.2 acres near Mashburn Drive and Charleston Park Road for boat and equipment storage.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

-- Frank Reddy

Close, but still no deal.

The Forsyth County commission on Thursday again put off a vote on plans for a massive, mixed-use project in south Forsyth.

The delay, the sixth since July, came as commissioners and representatives of the developer say they are near an agreement.

Taubman wants to build the upscale development on 164 acres along Ga. 400 between Union Hill and McFarland roads near the Fulton County line. The project calls for retail and office space, as well as hotels and residential units.

Before postponing the vote on a deal with developer Taubman Centers, Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse read a statement to "clear up any uncertainty with respect to the county's intentions."

"As you know, there have been multiple extensions of the agreement, "Laughinghouse said. "Please understand these extensions are not indicative of a deal that is floundering. In fact, the opposite is true."

Laughinghouse said he anticipated commissioners would vote on a final agreement at their Dec. 4 meeting.

Representatives from Taubman said they also were confident that negotiations were nearly finished.

"We have found Forsyth to be very willing to work with us as a partner to bring this project to fruition," said Mark Putney, Taubman's vice president of development.

"Both the staff and commissioners have done appropriate due diligence ... There's been a lot of give and take, but in the end there's always been a desire by the commissioners and staff to make this work."

Commissioners most recently directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to make changes to the working copy of the agreement at Tuesday's work session.

According to Jarrard, the basics of the deal state that the county will do the following:

• Buy the right of way to extend Ronald Reagan Boulevard for $2.575 million from Taubman.

• Pay the developer $1 million for its engineering plans.

• Finish Ronald Reagan and nearby sewer improvements.

• Reduce sewer tap fees for a period following construction.

• Enact a tax abatement, or tax relief, schedule for a period of 10 years.