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QT off Exit 12 gets go-ahead for rezoning application

SOUTH FORSYTH -- The Forsyth County planning board gave a preliminary go-ahead to a rezoning application for a proposed gas station in south Forsyth.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday night to send QuikTrip Corporation’s request to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation of approval to rezone less than two acres on Bluegrass Lakes Parkway just west of Ga. 400 and McFarland Parkway (Exit 12) from a restricted industrial district, or M1, to commercial business district, or CBD, for an about 5,800-square-foot convenience store and fuel station with 53 parking spaces.

The only concern the planning board previously had was what to do with a large tree located on the property.

At a work session Aug. 23, the board discussed whether the tree would need to be cut down, and, if it did, what the applicant’s recompense efforts would be.

Forsyth County’s Tree Protection and Replacement Ordinance states, “Specimen trees removed with prior approval from the Department of Planning and Development must be replaced at the rate of one unit for each unit awarded it, in addition to the minimum site density factor in recompense for their removal.”

However, the document adds, “In the event the director determines a specimen, historic or landmark tree is a hazard to property, power lines or people, the tree may be removed without recompense or penalty.”

The board’s issue was whether the tree was healthy enough that its removal would require recompense or if it posed a hazard and, therefore, no remediated efforts would be needed after taking it down.

The concern was remedied by a county arborist who deemed the tree a hazard, thus letting QuikTrip off the hook.

Emory Lipscomb, QuikTrip’s attorney, said the company would still provide recompense for cutting down the tree.

“Although QuikTrip doesn’t have any obligation under the Forsyth County tree ordinance to plant more trees or pay recompense to the county for the tree, they will agree to plant 80 two-inch diameter trees throughout the county at the direction of the county ordinance,” he said.

District 3 board member Patrick Britt, whose district the proposed QuikTrip falls in, gave the company the option to donate $20,000 to the county’s tree fund, the estimated cost of 80 two-inch trees.

With recompense guaranteed, Britt reiterated one more condition QuikTrip had already agreed to; instead of the company’s typical bright red awning, QuikTrip would use a brown awning to blend more into the area.

While the planning board’s vote does not determine the outcome of the application, it serves as a recommendation for the BOC, who will ultimately decide the fate of the request.

The BOC is expected to make the final decision at its Sept. 15 meeting.