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Planning board hears sign of frustration
Church seeks 'use' rezoning carries, not designation
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Forsyth County News

Other business

Also during its work session Tuesday, Forsyth County’s planning board split over whether to add an item to the agenda to discuss possible incentives for developers who finish partially built subdivisions.

Board members Joe Moses, who suggested the item, and Craig Nolen were in favor of discussion.

Their colleagues Pam Livesay and Pam Bowman did not want to consider the issue without placing it on an announced agenda and preparing for it.

The tie vote, which resulted due to a vacancy on the five-member panel, will by rule go to the next meeting, where it can be broken.

Matt Murphy resigned from the board last week due to increased work commitments.

Alyssa LaRenzie

The pastor of a Brookwood Road church discussed his obstacles in getting a new sign with Forsyth County’s planning board Tuesday night.

Eastgate Church requested a rezoning from agricultural to commercial, which allows for a back-lit sign under the local sign ordinance.

David Houtsma told the board during its work session that neighbors are in favor of the church “upgrading” the sign, but have concerns about allowing a commercial zoning.

The church sought the rezoning only after trying other avenues for about four or five months, Houtsma said.

“We came back with [commercial zoning] because that’s what we were told to do to get the sign that everybody agrees that we should have,” he said. “Now that people are looking at it, they’re saying, we’re not concerned about your use, we’re concerned about the zoning that allows that type of use.”

Tom Brown, Forsyth’s planning director, said the county commission asked him to review the sign ordinance to amend requirements for churches.

That discussion is scheduled for a May 8 work session, Brown said. If approved, it would take three to four months before any code changes could be enacted.

Chairwoman Pam Livesay suggested the church postpone the issue until the commission discusses the ordinance.

“If they say ‘no,’ then I think you have a case to come back,” Livesay said.

Houtsma said church members donated money for the sign and have seen no progress or result, so he hopes to move forward soon.

He asked if the church could perhaps pursue a portion of its application by moving forward with only the requested variances for a larger parking lot.

“As far as the church is concerned, the zoning doesn’t matter to us. The use matters to us,” Houtsma said. “In terms of our neighborhood, they’re not concerned about the use. They’re concerned about the zoning.

“The obstacle we have is the political process and how to get through this issue.”

The planning board will hold a public hearing on the rezoning request at 6:30 p.m. April 24.