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Issue of youth center returns
Hearing Tuesday with planners
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Forsyth County News

What has been a contentious issue for a northeastern Forsyth neighborhood is rekindling discussion.

Forsyth County’s planning board will hold a public hearing Tuesday on Bridgepoint Community Networks’ request for a conditional use permit to operate a faith-based, nonprofit club or lodge for youth in the Crystal Cove Shores neighborhood.

The group’s plan calls for a 2,000-square-foot facility on a half-acre lot at Crystal Cove and Thunder trails. The community is off Hwy. 53 near where Forsyth, Dawson and Hall counties meet at Lake Lanier.

It will be the second time in three months that the issue has come before the planning board.

The board held a public hearing on the request in May, during which it heard support and opposition for the community center idea from neighbors.

Opponents contended the center would really be a church and could aggravate traffic problems in the area.

In addition, they said, the proposal doesn’t meet unified development code standards.

In the end, the planning board recommended the request be approved by the county commission, which decides such matters.

In June, however, the commission decided to send the request back to the planning board because it had been improperly advertised.

During a work session Tuesday, the planning board reviewed the matter.

The talks included a proposal by Planning Commissioner Joe Moses to postpone next week’s hearing to conduct a survey of the entire neighborhood, which has some 100 homes.

Moses wanted to find out what residents of the subdivision thought about the proposed community center.

"I think we need a little bit more time to get an unbiased survey from the property owners just to see what they feel," Moses said.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Pam Livesay noted that adjacent property owners had already been asked their opinions on the issue.

In addition, the county’s interim planning director pointed out that the results of such a survey shouldn’t be allowed to shape the board’s decision.

"You need to be cautious about [that], you get into trouble quickly when you make zoning decisions based on popular vote," Tom Brown said.

Brown added that the county’s unified development code includes a list of factors the planning board can consider when making its decisions.

"Quite honestly, if something is a land-use issue, it’s a land-use issue if one person thinks so or 100," Brown said. "Be cautious of the show of hands."