Forsyth County commissioners recently discussed how they would deal with future developments in light of the success of mixed-use developments in the area.
Commissioners held a special called meeting on Thursday, prior to the scheduled regular meeting, to discuss the rezoning process for master planned district, or MPD, zonings, which allow for mixed-use developments.
Mixed-use developments – sometimes called live, work, play communities – offer both commercial businesses and residential housing, typically at higher-than-usual density. Such developments are required to be 25 percent commercial development.
The county does make exceptions to allow residential to be built out first to attract business owners but seeks to avoid situations where the commercial element doesn’t develop or isn’t viable.
“A lot of commercial has just changed, and I don’t know if any of us has the ability to see the future well enough to see what to do,” District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff said. “The question really is: what’s the value to anybody, including the people that might live here if it is approved, to this commercial?
“Obviously they can’t support this commercial by themselves, and maybe no one can.”
The meeting was the product of a past work session in which commissioners directed Tom Brown, the county’s director of planning and community development, to bring any MPD to a special meeting for discussion.
Brown said he would like to see the county only consider bringing certain applicants asking for changed standards.
“I’d like to start these types of discussions in the pre-application meeting when the applicant is first putting their product together to submit it,” he said. “I’d also like to, rather than bringing every MPD application to [the board], a somewhat more limited group; either only applicants that request it or only applicants that find a commissioner willing to sponsor a request.”
The commission spent time early in the meeting discussing a possible development in north Forsyth that does not want to do commercial upfront.
No action was taken during the meeting.
Forsyth County is currently updating its comprehensive 20-year plan, which is likely to recommend changes to the MPD zoning district.