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Proposed elderly care home in west Forsyth sparks concerns
Issues of ensuring mixed use, not just residential
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WEST FORSYTH -- The Forsyth County planning board discussed a zoning application Tuesday for a proposed personal care home in Cumming.

Serene Investments Inc. has requested to rezone about six acres on Kelly Mill Road from an agricultural district, or A1, to an urban village district, or UV, for 40 personal care home units totaling 24,000 square feet and an additional total of 31,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space with 142 parking spaces.

Unlike a nursing home or senior community, the building — located just west of the intersection with Bethelview Road — would be a short-term care facility for adults in need. Although the franchise does build assisted living homes, the developer emphasized this property would be built solely for “respite care services.”

The franchise’s website says, “Whether help is needed after a surgery or illness, for vacation coverage, or just a break from the routine, respite care provides you peace of mind in knowing your loved one is in good company and being well cared for. As a temporary resident, our respite residents appreciate many of the same benefits that our full-time residents enjoy — a furnished room, three nutritious home-cooked meals a day (with snacks), great interaction with residents and staff and activities tailored to their specific needs.”

The county’s planning and community development staff is not supportive of the proposal because of the commercial aspects of the proposal.

In their report, staff wrote, “The purpose of the neighborhood center character area is to provide a setting for small business establishments to offer goods and services to nearby households. Since the commercial uses will be constructed based on market demand, that may result in [the small businesses] being significantly delayed.”

At the board meeting, the discussion focused on compromises the developer would be willing to make to ensure retail, restaurants and small businesses would also be developed, should the homes be built.

“We’re looking for a way to build out some of the retail in parallel with the [building] of the care center so we don’t end up with a situation where the retail is never built out,” District 3 board member Patrick Britt said. “Is there something, somewhere we can meet in concurrence that will be acceptable to the client and will help us make the character area a little more palpable?”

The developer has said he is willing to compromise, building no more than half of the proposed units until he comes in with 5,500 square feet of retail. Then, presumably, he would be able to build the other 20 units.

Other issues were also aired.

The developer will need to commission a hydrology study due to there being a dam in Brighton Lake, an adjacent subdivision.

Then there’s the issue of storm water drainage, which the developer would need to ensure wouldn’t enter the pond.

The planning board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 30, during which they may vote to approve or deny the application.

Their vote serves as a recommendation for the Board of Commissioners, which will ultimately decide the fate of the rezoning request. The proposal is scheduled to appear before the BOC on Sept. 15.