Forsyth County officials and residents had the opportunity this week to speak on an update to the county’s 20 year land use plan.
On Wednesday, Forsyth County commissioners held a discussion lasting nearly three hours with planners of the update to the county’s comprehensive plan, called Foster Forsyth, the county’s planning board, members of the plan’s steering committee and residents. The plan will next be discussed and can be transmitted for state and regional review on April 13.
The plan seeks to guide policy over a 20-year period and provide a strategy for growth and development.
One of the most visible aspects of the update is splitting the county into 11 distinct areas, typically named after a community or landmark and with regional, community and neighborhood nodes, or areas with specified zoning standards.
The character areas are McFarland, South Ga. 400, Big Creek, Haw Creek/Daves Creek, Lanier, Vickery Creek, Campground, North Ga. 400, Chestatee/Jot Em Down, Etowah and Sawnee Mountain.
One change coming from planners was instead of worrying about mixed-use districts MU6 and MU12 – the numbers refer to density per acre – to decide on what the community wants to see in mixed-use and deciding density and other factors in the future.
“Frankly, my recommendation would be get rid of the MU6 and MU12, insert an MU-Regional in regional nodes to be defined later and MU-Community for community in community nodes to be defined later and let those density discussions go to another level of detail,” said Eric Bosman, of Kimley-Horn and Associates. “The comprehensive plan probably isn’t the right level to solve this.”
Bettina Hammond, the District 4 planning board member, encouraged commissioners to submit the plan.
“My job is to uphold the integrity of the UDC and the comp plan. The one that I have right now that was passed by the board is [from] 2012,” Hammond said. “The community that I’m working with is in this [new] comp plan and wants this comp plan.”
After speaking with a developer, Greg Dolezal, a former member of the planning board and steering committee, said he favored having some middle ground for what zonings are allowed where instead of the plan having uses be allowed or not allowed.
“Perhaps you move from a series on that chart of a bunch of checkboxes to some checkboxes but then some new designations which are ‘C’ and that’s conditional,” he said. “It’s conditional on the site plan and the architectural standards.”
The idea was discussed by other speakers and commissioners throughout the meeting.
Resident Joanne Leach said Wednesday was the 40th meeting she attended to give input for the plan.
There was also discussion on architectural standards, which could lead to a county architect to review designs in the future, a system used by some other municipalities in metro-Atlanta.
Near the end of the meeting, commissioners gave some input as to changes they would like to see in their districts.
Since April 2016, consultants with Jacobs Engineering and Kimley-Horn and Associates have held a handful of meetings with residents and stakeholders, with nearly 1,000 coming to events and more than 4,800 responding to a community survey.
A copy of the plan and process is available at FosterForsyth.com.