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Plan for town homes tweaked
Board OKs changes over residents' fears
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Forsyth County News

What's to become of a 16-acre site near Buford Dam and Nuckolls roads triggered some unrest Thursday from several dozen residents, including a Forsyth County commissioner-elect.

In the end, however, the county commission voted 3-1 to amend several conditions of the residential zoning.

That was after Commissioner Jim Harrell made an initial motion to postpone action at the request of Chairman Charles Laughinghouse, who was not there.

His motion was not seconded, which drew the ire of resident Joe Moses.

"Will any of you stand up and tell me why that wasn't seconded?" Moses asked during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Vice chairman David Richard told Moses the public comment period "does not provide for back and forth comments."

Moses, who lives below the proposed site, told commissioners he was worried about runoff.

"I can stand here my whole three minutes and wait," he said. "If y'all want to hide under your desks, you might as well. I think it's a reasonable question."

Commissioner Brian Tam told Moses he had "put a great deal of time into this."

"I've met with people who support it and those who oppose it," Tam said. "I'm ready to go forward."

The commissioner went on to say that Laughinghouse, who was attending another meeting Thursday night, had not informed him ahead of time that the item needed postponing.

Developer Danny Bennett owns the property, which was originally zoned from commercial to residential in 2004.
He sought the changes in an attempt to satisfy nearby residents, with whom his business, Buford/Nuckolls LLC, has been negotiating.

Still, some residents worry the proposed town homes could become apartments.

In response, Bennett offered to make another condition during the public hearing.

"We would be willing to put in a new zoning condition that apartments would not be allowed ... to assure people there will be no apartments," he said.

That didn't satisfy all the residents.

District 5 Commissioner-elect Jim Boff, who lives in the area, said he had a problem with the proposed building's proximity to the gas station at that intersection.

He said his main issue was that it "sits on top of a hill directly next to a gas station," adding that the county's unified development code did not allow for such.

Richard told Boff the 500-foot limitation for gas stations next to residential properties is designated for when gas stations try to rezone next to residential, not the opposite.

"What difference does it make if you explode, whether you were there first or the gas station was there first?" Boff asked.

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter, who Boff will succeed in January, said it was a moot point.

"The problems you're talking about stay regardless of whether [the developer] builds or not," said Ledbetter, who chose not to seek a second term.

Boff disagreed.

"If he doesn't build, nobody can burst into flames," he said. "There's no building to burst into flames if there's an explosion."

Ledbetter asked what difference it made.

"There's still going to be buildings there," she said. "It is zoned that way. Do you understand that? We're trying to make it better for y'all."

Ledbetter made a motion and read the new conditions of the zoning, which included, among others, the provision that the town homes would not be used as apartments and that overhead sprinklers would not be required inside them.

"When that place blows up, I don't think anybody here is going to have to worry about whether they had sprinklers," she said.