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Extensions on moratorium affecting north Forsyth businesses
Coal Mountain Overlay plans taking longer than expected
Coal Mountain

An ongoing moratorium in north Forsyth is aimed at improving the architectural standards of incoming businesses but is also causing issues for some companies on the move.

At a recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners discussed the latest of the ongoing Coal Mountain Overlay and voted unanimously to advertise for a second public hearing at their July 6 meeting.

A first public hearing will be held before the planning board on June 27. If the board has many changes, it could push the second hearing back to August.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said commissioners had asked him about possible ways to allow certain businesses to move forward without ending the current moratorium on the acceptance of land disturbance permits for properties under the county’s unified development code Chapter 12, which are commercial and office districts.

“The more we started trying to work that language, the more difficult it got because once you began trying to pigeonhole this development can go forward but then the remainder can’t, it began to become almost unwieldy to do the moratorium that way,” he said. 

The overlay will be discussed at the commission’s regular meeting on Thursday. 

At the last regular meeting, local dentist Mark Causey told commissioners the moratorium affected his plans to move to a new location in north Forsyth.

Causey said the lease on his current building is up at the end of the year and cannot be renewed, which would give him a few months to build, move in and open the new location.

“It could jeopardize my business, which has been in Forsyth County for nearly five years,” Causey said. “After reviewing my patient records, this would cause a hardship and compromise continuity of care for over 600 Forsyth County residents who are patients of mine.”

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the area, said she knew of other businesses being affected by the moratorium.

Chairman Todd Levent said the process has taken longer than expected.

“We supported Ms. Mills in this to begin with in the beginning when it wasn’t supposed to go past April or May because we didn’t want to destroy business coming into our county,” he said. “Now it is getting drug out and drug out and drug out because they don’t have it right … or all these other reasons and now we’re going to push it all the way to August, and we are absolutely causing hardships on business.”

Mills said the moratorium had been done as quickly as possible by county staff and an overlay committee created last year that was tasked with creating new architecture, landscape and future design standards for the Coal Mountain area and that there is still work to be done by the overlay committee.

“They’re going to come with changes,” she said. “I caught immediately that we left out strip malls, which was the very reason we brought it forward to begin with.”

The moratorium was originally adopted in December and extended in March to allow the new standards to be approved and implemented. It affects portions of Districts 1, 4 and 5.

The area of the moratorium is diamond-shaped with four points.

The original boundaries of the moratorium were 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 Jan. 10 work session.