Forsyth County residents had an opportunity this week to voice their thoughts on a plan that will drive county land use for the next two decades.
On Tuesday, Forsyth County’s planning board heard a presentation on the update to the county’s comprehensive plan, or Foster Forsyth, and the community held a public hearing on the plan.
The plan seeks to guide policy over a 20-year period and provide a strategy for growth and development. Forsyth County contracted Jacobs Engineering and Kimley-Horn and Associates to devise the plan.
Since April, Foster Forsyth has held several meetings with community members, with nearly 1,000 coming to events and more than 4,800 responding to a community survey.
One of the most visible changes in the update is splitting the county into 11 distinct areas, typically named after a community or landmark and regional, community and neighborhood nodes, or areas with specified zoning standards.
The character areas are McFarland, South Ga. 400, Big Creek, Haw Creek, Lanier, Vickery Creek, Campground, North Ga. 400, Chestatee/Jot Em Down, Etowah and Sawnee Mountain.
At the meeting, some concerns were raised by those living in Daves Creek, which was first a node in the Windermere area and is now in Haw Creek.
Chris Fletcher, who lives in the area, said neighbors had issues with certain zoning categories in the area.
“Some things that we find particular issue with are that there are recommendations for zoning up to five-story non-residential buildings.
That’s taller than the courthouse, [and] that parking for industrial and commercial use be done in deck-style parking instead of a parking lot,” he said.
Other speakers were also against changes that would mean more growth and favored a more rural feel to the county.
Though having some concerns with allowing master-planned district zoning in the Campground district, resident Joanne Lee said she was happy to be involved in the process.
“I’ve been to all the meetings, I’ve been to all the workshops,” she said. “I’m so happy to be able to stand here in support of what has come forward in my character area to this point.”
Board member Robert Hoyt said that it is likely the plan will see some revisions before adoption.
“As I understand it, the staff at Foster Forsyth, after talking to a lot of people, put together this as an initial recommendation,” Hoyt said.
“This is not the way the plan is going to go when done. We’re going to look at it and the Board of Commissioners is going to look at it. The fact that something is in there right now doesn’t mean it’s going to stay.”
The update will again be discussed by the board at a work session on Oct. 4.
The planning board should make its recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on Oct. 25.
A public hearing before county commissioners is scheduled for Dec. 1, and the plan will go for regional and state approval after that. The BOC will vote on the plan on March 1, after two incoming commissioners have taken office.
For a copy of the draft and more information, go to FosterForsyth.com.