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Plan for Big Creek advances
Foes fretting over traffic, apartments
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Forsyth County News
Plans for a large, mixed-use development in south Forsyth have cleared the county’s planning board despite opposition from developers of a neighboring project.

In a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, the commission recommended approval of Diversified Real Estate Group’s request to rezone 121 acres at Ga. 400 and McFarland Road to a master planned district for the Commons at Big Creek.

Planning Commissioner Jim Quinn voted against the request, saying he doesn’t think the proposal meets the purpose or intent of a master planned district.

The proposal is expected to go before the Forsyth County commission next month for final consideration.

Diversified’s plan calls for three 115-room hotels, 530 apartments and office and real estate space. Developers of an adjoining project, Taubman Centers Inc., are uncomfortable with the proposal.

Taubman’s project, just south of Diversified’s site, is billed as an upscale live-work-play community on 164 acres between Union Hill and McFarland roads. It includes hotels, shopping and about 875 residential units.

Before the vote, Atlanta attorney Harold Buckley spoke on Taubman’s behalf.

Buckley cited various concerns about the neighboring project including its residential density and traffic issues.

“As I make my opposition presentation, I’d like for you to keep in mind the fact that we have three dark clouds hanging over this application,” Buckley said. “Those being conformity to the [unified development code], capacity of infrastructure and quality of the development.”

Taubman has also taken issue with the number of proposed apartments in Diversified’s plan.

Emory Lipscomb, who spoke on Diversified’s behalf, said the number is justified.

“The current townhome, multi-family for sale market is saturated,” Lipscomb said. “The location fronting Ga. 400 doesn’t lend itself to for-sale product. There’s a shortage of for-rent product in Forsyth County now.”

Lipscomb said the county needs 1,200 to 1,500 rental units, a number that likely will rise when the economy improves.

The planning board’s recommendation included the stipulation that Diversified cannot begin residential development on the site until 140,000 square feet of its commercial development has been permitted.

At that point, according to the restriction, Diversified can build 330 apartments. Once the company has obtained permits for an additional 140,000 square feet of commercial development, the remaining 230 units can be built.

E-mail Julie Arrington at