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Proposals aired for future of Forsyth County
Foster Forsyth

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Forsyth County continued to plan for its future this week with a final meeting of one group.

The steering committee for Foster Forsyth, the update to the county’s comprehensive plan, held their last meeting on Tuesday, as members heard a draft of the update and weighed in on what options they would like to see.

Members spent the majority of the meeting performing and reviewing an exercise placing different colored stickers next to statements that they either supported or opposed for land use, housing, economic development and quality of life.

Much of the exercise’s discussion surrounded the reasoning behind opposing statements.

A proposal that was supported by certain members and opposed by others concerned a possible performing arts center, which some felt would cost more than it would bring in.

“These things tend to be drains,” said committee member Greg Dolezal. “They tend to be expense centers.”

Another proposal receiving mixed reviews was the addition of farmland protections through changes to the county’s unified development code.

“We already have a great plan in place created by the state of Georgia and implemented by the county of tax abatement for farms … for 20 percent of your value if you keep doing a farm for 10 years,” said Commission Chairman Pete Amos, who was against adding extra rules.

For land use, one of the least popular proposals was adding two new denser residential zoning categories to spur mid-range priced housing and denser development, which was intended to match surrounding areas.

It was brought up during the discussion that these areas could be used for mixed-use developments, though some members felt such developments should be driven by retail, rather than residential.

Members favored land use proposals to create a mass grading ordinance, renovate the county’s tree ordinance, establish a countywide review board and create additional design standards for single family residential districts Res-2, Res-3 and Res-4.

For housing, members were more supportive of identifying ways to develop custom housing than researching incentives to promote affordable housing.

“As a community, we can help those who are looking for housing,” said Jayne Iglesias, a committee member and planning board member for District 2 in south Forsyth. “But as a government, I don’t see how that is our [job].”

Economically, the committee favored identifying under-used incentives to attract business and updating a plan to market to visitors.

Officials with the update also handed out a chart showing which areas of the county were appropriate for different zoning categories.

During the meeting, members also discussed refining the update’s character areas, which are typically named for a well-known landmark in the area.

The character areas in the study are McFarland Parkway, south Ga. 400, Haw Creek, south Forsyth, north Ga. 400, The Village, Lake Lanier, Chestatee/Jot Em Down roads, Campground Road, northwest Forsyth and Sawnee Mountain.

Information for the plan was gathered from the public at several meetings held by Foster Forsyth, including design, visioning and implementation workshops.

Citizens will next have an opportunity to give input on a draft of the comprehensive plan at a pair of open house meetings at the Forsyth County administration building on Aug. 29 and 31 from 4-8 p.m.

A public hearing will be held on the plan on Sept. 27 at the county’s planning commission meeting.

The plan will be reviewed for transmittal to the region and state on Oct. 6, and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is expected to take action at their Dec. 15 meeting.

More information is available at fosterforsyth.com.