County Attorney Ken Jarrard described a unique decision made by Forsyth County commissioners regarding two large tracts of land in north Forsyth as a “fairly compelling hat trick.”
At Thursday’s regular meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a compromise and agreement with Georgia Stone Products related to the legal nonconforming status – a zoning that was legal at the time of approval but is not allowed under current standards – of a sand mine on Keith Bridge Road, which will also include 233.7 acres owned by the Mashburn Marital Trust.
Under the agreement, the county will affirm Georgia Stone Products’s right to use the mine and the company will close on the Mashburn land.
“Georgia Stone Products has indicated that with respect to some of that, what we’re calling the Mashburn tract, they have identified minable aggregates or minable products on that property and therefore they have placed that piece of property – all of it, not just the portion where there may be aggregate or mineable substances – they have placed it under contract,” Jarrard said.
Jarrard said Mashburn property had previously been zoned for “just about a thousand residential units” or apartments.
“If we can achieve a confluence of those two interests, at the same time taking away the residential portion of the Mashburn tract, which I know the district commissioner has an interest in, then we may have pulled off a fairly compelling hat trick,” he said.
Under the county’s comprehensive plan, the area is in an industrial node, and Jarrard said changing the use of the property would be more in-step with those plans.
“The county has an expressed, land-use interest in an industrial node in this area,” Jarrard said. “Georgia Stone has an interest in getting back to work with respect to their sand mine operation and being able to invest fully in that operation but also may have an interest in mining that portion of aggregate on the Mashburn tract and otherwise converting the balance of it to an industrial use.”
The land will need to be converted from the current residential zoning district to an industrial use, and part of the agreement was the county would agree to look at the zoning “in good faith” but could not guarantee the zoning as part of the agreement.
It is anticipated the property will have a county-initiated rezoning.
If the zoning isn’t done by December 2020, commissioners take no action or zone the property in a way the other parties are not comfortable with, Georgia Stone will not have to close on the property.
In 2012, commissioners settled issues with both parties related to a 2010 zoning decision. Suits were filed after commissioners approved rezoning 115-acres at the mine for a planned eco-industrial park on Leland Drive.
The rezoning of the residential land was a condition of settlement.
Of the current commissioners, only Todd Levent, who represents District 3, was on the board in 2012 and none were on the board in 2010.