Forsyth commissioners nix residential conservation subdivisions

Following the approval of a moratorium on conservation subdivisions for single-family residential districts Res-1, Res-2 and Res-3, the categories could be going away for good.

At a recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with the process to remove the three conservation subdivisions from the county’s unified development code. 

The county’s code allows conservation subdivisions to minimize the impact of new development and “create and preserve open space and to provide alternative standards for the development of land.” 

There was discussion of only continuing the Res-1 conservation subdivision, with changes, and eliminating the others. 

One issues commissioners raised was using land that could not otherwise be built on for conservation.

“This where typically we find applications coming in: on hilly, rocky or already wetlands,” Chairman Todd Levent said, “in order to move it into the buildable area of the land, and that is where you typically find them trying to use this conservation easement, and I don’t think that’s exactly what it might have been designed for originally.”

Levent said the district is also used for higher density development.

“If it did the real Res-1 on [a development], you’ll never get the same because the lots are so big you’ll never be able to do it because of all the flood plane,” he said. “These categories are typically used to gain density that you would get out of a larger lot Res-1 … to make the lots smaller.”

A moratorium is in place on the acceptance of zoning, long-distance planning and sketch plats applications for the zoning districts.

Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, with the county’s planning department, said the conservation districts were intended to cluster houses together to cause less of an impact.

The matter will move to public hearings to gauge public interest before a final decision is made.