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Residents rank land-use maps at workshop
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Forsyth County News

What's next
The future development map workshop shifts to Coal Mountain Elementary School, 3455 Coal Mountain Drive, from 5 to 8 p.m. March 14. The public can also review the maps and information from the meeting and offer comment online at compplan.forsythco.com.

Joanne Leach studied several color-coded maps, considering how the colors could represent building in the future.

The west Forsyth woman was one of about 40 residents who attended Forsyth County's first future development map workshop on Monday at Brookwood Elementary School.

The workshop is one of seven community participation meetings that provide information and gather public feedback for the county's comprehensive plan update.

The updated comprehensive plan will serve as a policy guide for decisions related to growth and land use for the years 2012-32.

Monday's workshop focused on preferred future land use in the 20-year window.

The county has put the information from the meeting on its Web site and will also hold the same workshop next Monday at Coal Mountain Elementary School.

Visitors to the Brookwood workshop were asked to vote for their favorite of the four maps on display and add comments.

The maps draw on the county's character area map, which describes different geographically unique areas.

Input from the previous two public workshops, which covered issues and opportunities, also factored into the maps, said Vanessa Bernstein, the county's senior long-range planner.

Tom Brown, interim director of planning and development, said low density is often a point of discussion in these types of meetings.

"We always have people strongly on the side of we need more of it, and we always have people strongly on the side of we need a whole lot less of it or none of it," Brown said.

He pointed out that the third map contained the most open areas, while the fourth showed more development. Maps one and two fell somewhere in the middle.

Leach was not happy with the fourth map, which didn't include any areas classified as estate residential, or a more low-density or agricultural designation.

The 14-year resident came as a representative of Howard Road Community and Surrounding Areas, a group of some west Forsyth residents who want to maintain the area's agricultural feel.

Leach said she's been involved in the comprehensive plan update process since it opened to the community in October.

"The map will be the guideline for building," she said. "We're trying to preserve it so they can't get the higher density there."

Jim Warner also attended the meeting with a primary interest in how the areas near his Long Lake subdivision might be characterized.

Although she also lives in the county, Amita Kotwani said her primary interest was viewing what the county has prepared in terms of planning, since she also does that type of work.

Another planner, Jerry Weitz, attended the meeting on behalf of the city of Cumming.

Weitz, a consultant, said the city is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan.

"I'm here to look at how the county's plan matches up around the city's quarters," Weitz said. "We need to coordinate the land use plans for the two."

The city and county prepare their plans separately, but both must meet a state deadline of June 30, 2012.