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Planners approve retirement project
Continued care facility proposed for 88-acre site
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Forsyth County News
A massive retirement community proposed for south Forsyth came one step closer to reality Tuesday night.
The Forsyth County Planning Commission approved 4-0 requests by Erickson Retirement Communities for a conditional use permit and to rezone two parcels of land from residential to a multiple planned district.
The company intends to build a continuing care retirement community on about 88 acres at the intersection of McGinnis Ferry and Bethany Bends roads.
Planning Commissioner Mary Helen McGruder did not attend the meeting.
The community would include 1,500 independent living units, 150 assisted living units and 100 skilled care units.
Residents would have to be at least 62 years old.
Before the vote, Mark Hunter, Erickson's project manager for the proposed community, told the board that the development would bring in 1,000 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of about $20 million and around 300 construction jobs.
The center is expected to employ on-site doctors, nurses, cooks, designers, accountants and other professionals.
"We've been doing this since 1983; it's our 25th anniversary," Hunter said.
"We've got 22 communities in various stages of development across the United States with about 20,000 residents, 12,000 employees and over 95 percent of the residents that live in our community would recommend the community to a friend."
Hunter said the project consists of two independent living neighborhoods served by two community buildings. He said amenities would include hair salons, crafts rooms, pharmacies, restaurants, banks and health clubs.
Residents would also have access to transportation to local stores and entertainment venues. The project would also have a healthcare facility that includes assisted living and skilled nursing units.
"One of our major amenities is our health center," he said. "It's staffed five days a week by five to six full-time physicians that work for Erickson and are also on call 24/7 and we have home healthcare and physician specialists who come in on various hours."
Opposition to the proposal came from Tony Grieco of Health Management Accounting Services.
He referred to three other local retirement communities in various stages of development - an assisted living facility on Post Road, Health Management's recently approved project on Old Atlanta Road and a group of adult neighborhoods on Peachtree Parkway - none of which are as extensive as Erickson's proposal.
"Our concern that we would like to have considered is the impact this would have on those projects," he said.
"The fact that at this particular time this is a very difficult time for new projects coming on board because much of the funds that go towards funding a project like this come from the economy, which is obviously in a difficult state right now."
Grieco said existing businesses could be negatively impacted by a project of the magnitude Erickson is proposing.
The final request for approval is scheduled to go before the Forsyth County commission July 17.
The county commission enacted a moratorium on conditional use permits for retirement communities in February 2007. That ban expired in December.