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Rezoning draws near for golf course
Public hearing on issue tonight
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Forsyth County News

If you go

What: Forsyth County commission meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: County administration building, 110 E. Main St. in Cumming

 

Also on the agenda

Other matters on the agenda for tonight’s Forsyth County commission meeting include:

• A tiebreaking vote on whether to rescind the county’s pre-application to the state Department of Community Affairs for a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Section 108 loan.

The $5 million loan, which needs the county’s approval to be acquired, would aid Kennesaw-based developer Almquist Hansen in building a $30.6 million high-end senior rental community.

The project would qualify for HUD funding based on the jobs it would provide to low- and middle-income workers.

DCA must approve the pre-application and send back potential terms before county commissioners will make a final decision.

• A public hearing and potential vote on whether to move the final say on alternative design reviews for the county’s two overlay districts from the planning board to the commission.

• A decision on whether to award a conditional use permit for a clubhouse to Bridgepoint Community Networks, which hopes to build a youth community center in the Crystal Cove Shores subdivision. Some residents have opposed the plan.

• Discussion on what to advertise as the county’s 2012 millage rate. Commissioners have previously said they plan to either decrease the tax rate or leave it the same.

 

Alyssa LaRenzie

With the court-ordered date for rezoning Lanier Golf Course just 10 days away, Forsyth County commissioners plan to hear from the public on the issue during a meeting tonight.

The commission could also vote on how to rezone the 172-acre site on Buford Dam Road.

The golf course issue has simmered since 2007, when the course owners sued the county after commissioners rejected their request to rezone the property from agricultural to a master planned district.

The owners, Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr., had a contract with a developer to buy the site, contingent upon its rezoning.

About four years of litigation over the course came to a quick halt May 12, when Appalachian Judicial Circuit Judge Robert E. Bradley ordered the property be given a "constitutional zoning classification" within 45 days.

As the June 26 deadline draws near, commissioners face two options: rezone the property or appeal the ruling, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.

"They have to do something," he said.

The county has paid about $184,000 in attorney’s fees to outside firm Landrum & Friduss since early 2008, according to the county finance department.

Aside from Jim Boff, the commissioners have not shown signs of favoring an appeal, but have instead moved forward with the rezoning process.

As recently as last week, Boff asked the commission to consider designating $10 million from a possible extension of the 1-cent sales tax to acquire the course as green space for his district and to avoid potential future litigation.

In May, commissioners voted on what rezoning to legally advertise in preparation for tonight’s public hearing.

The front tract of the property, about 92 acres, was advertised for rezoning to a master planned district with a conditional use permit for a continuing care retirement community.

The nearly 80 acres in the rear were posted for a possible change to Res-3, or single family residential.

Those proposed zonings may or may not be what the commission ultimately votes on, Jarrard said.

"They could not do anything more intense than what was advertised, but they have a little bit of flexibility to do less," he said, adding that denying a rezoning altogether is not an option.

One tool the commission plans to review tonight is a study requested of the GIS department to examine the densities of surrounding land, Jarrard said.

The commission has previously discussed some potential conditions and density restrictions that would fall under the advertised rezoning.

Commissioners attempted during a work session in late May to strike a balance between the conceptual plan owners have proposed and neighbors’ opposition to the site being rezoned for a higher density.

On the tract proposed for a zoning of master planned district, the conceptual plan calls for 429 age-restricted homes of various types and a hospice including 200 beds. The back residential tract lists 190 homes.

Wanting to minimize the density’s impact, commissioners agreed to allow 160 homes on the back tract.

Density and impact were the same considerations when discussing the front section, which didn’t garner as much consensus.

The group agreed to move forward with the plan that 200 hospice beds would be allowed in a building with a maximum height of three stories.

Another 325 senior residences, including apartment units, villas, cottages and others, would also be allowed on the master planned district portion of the property.

A commercial outparcel would be designated as a use related to the remainder of the development.