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Road impact fees a concern for proposed south Forsyth subdivision
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A developer looking to build a 51-unit subdivision on Melody Mizer Lane in south Forsyth may run into problems regarding road impact fee credits due to nuances in county code.

The applicant, who is represented by Ethan Underwood, an attorney with Miles Hansford & Tallant LLC, is requesting to rezone about 29 acres from an agricultural district, or A1, to a single family residential Res-3 district for 51 lots with a density of 1.77 units per acre.

The property, which is located directly across from Joint Venture Park, adjacent to Daves Creek Elementary School, is surrounded by subdivisions, making it “suitable in view of surrounding properties,” according to planning staff.

At a newly-implemented Board of Commissioners zoning workshop meeting Tuesday afternoon, District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, who drives Melody Mizer “pretty much every day,” said the road is a “deathtrap” and already plagued by traffic.

While she did not explicitly say she opposed the application, which has just reached the planning commission and was discussed at their work session Tuesday evening, Semanson said she would be “very fearful without having a significant traffic plan” for the subdivision to be built.

Underwood said at the workshop the developer would be willing to develop a traffic plan, though issues regarding whether he could receive impact fee credits have arisen.

According to Forsyth County code, “in the event a developer enters into an agreement with the county to construct, fund or contribute system improvements so that the amount of the credit created by such construction, funding or contribution is in excess of the impact fee otherwise due, the developer shall be reimbursed for such excess construction funding or contribution from development impact fees paid by other developments located in the service area which is benefited by such improvements if so provided in the agreement.”

Underwood said that may not be the case for this project.

“We have been discussing road impact fees [and whether] we can use them for a roundabout,” he said. “My understanding is no because the way that the county adopted our impact fee ordinance is we have to use them on major thoroughfares, not these arterials.

“You’re going to collect impact fees off this transaction, but you cannot use them on Melody Mizer Road.”

This, he said, may prove problematic, largely because District 2 planning board member Stacy Guy, whose district the application falls in, wants a roundabout put in.

“I’d like it because it would provide some traffic calming on this road,” Guy said. “I guess my question for staff is, and I think I know the answer to this, unfortunately, is can we not give road impact fee credits for something like this? I think the answer is no.

“I know other jurisdictions do this and we’re relatively new with road impact fee credits, but in my mind, this is a pretty significant road improvement and it would be very reasonable to grant them credits for this, if they’re legitimately improving a county-maintained road and helping them with the park.”

Leslie Silas, a member of the county’s a planning and community development staff, said “a guide for how to handle such a request is currently under review by the Board of Commissioners.”

It is unclear whether the issue will be resolved before the planning board’s public hearing on Tuesday, March 28, where they are scheduled to vote to send the application to the BOC with a recommendation of approval or denial.