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Lines drawn over big plan
Board could vote on project today
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Forsyth County News
Barring a third postponement, today the Forsyth County commission will consider a large mixed-use development proposed for about 240 acres in south Forsyth.

The commission is expected to weigh a request by Paces Battle Properties to rezone the site, which is on Hwy. 9 between Majors and Castleberry roads, from agricultural to a master planned district.

The project, known as Venable Hall, calls for 727 residential units, about 1.1 million square feet of commercial space and 66 acres of open space.

In June, the county’s planning board recommended approval in a 4-1 vote. The commission delayed a decision July 16 and again on Aug. 20.

Attorney Emory Lipscomb, who represents Paces, said the proposal also calls for a wellness and surgery center and a hotel.

“The public has a mistaken opinion that there’s going to be a lot of apartments built on this property,” he said. “And that may come from the fact that it’s shown on the future land-use map for high density residential, which would allow apartments.

“But they have never been proposed and aren’t proposed. No rental is proposed for this project. All of the residential that’s proposed would be owner-occupied residential.”

He said the plans include an additional eight outparcels that could house 40,000 to 80,000 square feet of restaurants, banks or other types of businesses.

Tony DeMaria, who lives on Castleberry, has said he and his neighbors think the project is too intense for the area.

“Upwards of 1,000 people have sent requests [to the commission] for denial,” said DeMaria, who likely will attend today’s meeting.

Some who live in surrounding neighborhoods have launched a Web site in opposition to the proposal.

According to the site, foes think the development doesn’t conform to the county’s comprehensive plan, which recommends the area be 99.2 percent residential.

The site goes on to say that the project will generate about 34,000 additional vehicles per day and that the comprehensive plan designates 10 other properties appropriate for the area.

In addition, opponents say, the project violates the county’s unified development code, which requires that a master planned zoning conform to the comprehensive plan.

Lipscomb said the proposed development has garnered approval from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the county’s planning staff.

He said there are 13 lots designated for single-family, detached homes on Castleberry and plans call for 4,750 feet of frontage on Hwy. 9.

“There won’t be any driveways to any homes or to any of the outparcels which are located along Hwy. 9,” Lipscomb said. “Those will all come off of an internal street network that’s being put in so that traffic will continue to move along Hwy. 9 and within this development.”