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Forsyth County planning board approves personal care home, retail space
Commercial, residential build-out timed together
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WEST FORSYTH -- The Forsyth County planning board voted unanimously to send a zoning application for a proposed personal care home to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation of approval Tuesday night.

Serene Investments Inc. wants to rezone about six acres on Kelly Mill Road from agricultural district, or A1, to urban village district, or UV, for 40 personal care home units totaling 24,000 square feet and an additional 31,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space with 142 parking spaces.

Unlike a nursing home or senior community, the building – located just west of the intersection with Bethelview Road – would be a short-term care facility for adults in need of “respite care services,” including a furnished room, three meals a day and activities during their temporary stay.

The county’s planning and community development staff was not supportive of the proposal because of the commercial aspects of the proposal and the worry that, as has happened with unrelated zonings in the county before, the residential components would be developed and commercial aspect not.

At an Aug. 23 work session, the planning board’s discussion focused on compromises the developer would be willing to make to ensure retail, restaurants and small businesses would also be developed.

Ethan Underwood, the developer’s attorney, said at the time the company was willing to compromise, building no more than half of the proposed units until he comes in with 5,500 square feet of retail.

That retail threshold was increased to 10,000 square feet on Tuesday night.

Certain restrictions were also placed on what businesses would or would not be allowed in the space.

Bars, lounges and nightclubs would not be allowed, although this prohibition would not include restaurants that contain a bar.

Other businesses, often referred to as “no nasties,” including electronic game playing centers (such as arcades), adult novelty stores, adult entertainment centers, pawn shops, pool halls, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and 24-hour businesses (except for medical clinics and 24-hour drug stores) would also be prohibited.

Residents of the Brighton Lake and Brighton View subdivisions, which are located downstream from Brighton Lake, raised their own concerns during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

When heavy rain falls, flooding often occurs in the subdivisions due to the lake’s crumbling dam, they said.

While the personal care home would be located upstream, stormwater from the property runs into the lake, increasing pressure and demand on the decaying dam.

And while there is no way to prevent runoff from the property, developing the area would reduce the amount of land that can effectively absorb rainfall.

“The development is 70 percent impervious cover [so] we’ll have about 55 percent additional runoff that’s going to go in the stream and into the lake,” said Ryan Jones, a representative for the Brighton Lake homeowners association.

At some point, he said, the dam may give out, and he and other subdivision residents are worried about extreme flooding if it does.

“Right now, what is coming out of the lake cannot handle additional inflow,” Jones said. “That is what [will] cause the dam to breach, and what happens when you keep adding water to a stopped-up bathtub? It comes over the side. We’re the communities that are downstream, and we want to protect our lake.”

While the planning board’s vote does not determine the outcome of the application, it serves as a recommendation for the BOC, which will ultimately decide the fate of the request.

The final decision is expected to be made at the Sept. 15 BOC meeting.