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Families share history of Coal Mountain area to committee
Group developing design standards for proposed overlay
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* Overlay committee breaks Coal Mountain into character nodes

NORTH FORSYTH -- A meeting for a new potential overlay in north Forsyth looked more like a history class on Monday.

At their most recent meeting, members of the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee heard from some longtime residents of the Coal Mountain,

Matt and Hammond’s crossing communities, which are each being considered for nodes in the plan.

“We have invited some people that have lived in the communities of our corridors of influence to also share some of the history,” District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said. “Of all the things we have talked about these weeks, we have not got into the historical component.”

As proposed, the nodes will go along Hwy. 369 between certain roads: a Matt node from Barrett Road to Heardmont Trace Road; a Coal Mountain node from about Gravitt Road to the Ga. 400 intersection; and a Hammond’s Crossing node from the Ga. 400 intersection eastward to about Mashburn Drive.

The areas are intended to have different standards than other developments in the overlay and to be destination areas.

“All these other communities, people were saying those communities feel like they’re extinct, that they have just vanished,” Mills said. “I didn’t want to one day wake up and people say Coal Mountain is no longer there or that Matt no longer exists.”

The overlay would deal with design standards, and engineers were interested in historical perspectives for the plan.

Allen Hammond, whose family the area is named after, spoke on the history of Hammond’s Crossing, where several family members had homes and businesses. Hammond said the area had not previously been built for any feel or design.

“Hammond’s Crossing has kind of been to this point in time as kind of ‘what’s needed,’” he said. “It’s just been, as my elected commissioner described it at one time, a hodgepodge of things.”

He said the mix of buildings means it may be hard to establish a design standard.

For Matt, Renee Hogan, sister of committee member David McBrayer, shared several memories of the original Matt School on Bannister Road and said she would like to see it and other remaining buildings have a place in the plans.

“I would love to see the school stay and become something,” she said. “The school is wonderful and the old Grogan store is wonderful. There’s not a lot of the houses still left … other older houses have either been torn down or moved. I would just like to see what we have left stay.”

Shirley Holtzclaw, speaking for Coal Mountain, said she moved to the area in 1953 when Settingdown Road was a “pig trail” and named Wallace Ford Road. She said she is a fan of Coal Mountain Park and the sports amenities.

“The ball park at Coal Mountain is something we’re proud of,” she said. “When we built the ballfield, my husband plowed it with his tractor, and he came in one day and said, ‘You’re going to be mad at me ... they were taking up money for the ball park and I gave our last $100.’”

Most commercial-zoned properties that would be affected by the overlay are currently under a moratorium on the acceptance of land

disturbance permits until March 20. The moratorium was approved in December 2016 and affects parcels in 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 Hwy. and Bannister Road were added at a Jan. 10 work session.

After the committee concludes its meetings and work, public hearings will be held before the county’s planning board and commissioners. The overlay can be adopted after the hearings.