After nearly 45 minutes of discussion at a public hearing Tuesday evening, Forsyth County planning board members remained divided on what to do with a rezoning application for a proposed 51-unit subdivision on Melody Mizer Lane in south Forsyth.
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 at 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.
Traffic – and the developer’s traffic plan – has been an ongoing issue with the application, leading to a 3-2 vote by planning board members to send the application to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation of approval.
Tim Dineen, District 5 board member, and Patrick Britt, of District 1, were opposed.
“There was a question from staff saying, ‘Hey, can you work on a roundabout on Melody Mizer Road?’” Underwood said. “From what we heard from the neighbors and one of the county commissioners, during school hours, traffic backs up for about 45 minutes and then it’s just a thoroughfare of people blazing through there very quickly.
Underwood said a roundabout has not been ruled out but that it falls on county and school property.
Another problem is that under current county ordinances, the developer likely would not be able to receive impact fee credits for the roundabout.
“We have been discussing road impact fees [and whether] we can use them for a roundabout,” Underwood 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.”
Planning board members struggled with this Tuesday.
“I feel like the impact fee ordinance ties our hands a little bit,” said District 2 board member Stacy Guy, whose district the application falls in. “[But] the roundabout solves a lot of issues; it serves as a traffic calming element on this road.
“I’ve talked to [the] engineering [department] and [District 5] Commissioner [Laura] Semanson, as well, and I think everybody agrees that this would make this road safer.”
At the meeting, Guy proposed a condition to include the option for a roundabout instead of a left turn and decal lane.
Britt and Dineen said they thought the wording was not binding enough, however, and proposed adding a condition that said the developer would contribute his pro rata share to the roundabout or what it would cost to build the deceleration and left turn lane.
The roundabout, Underwood estimated, would cost about $250,000, whereas the left turn and deceleration lanes would cost closer to $100,000.
Chairwoman Bettina Hammond ultimately suggested simply letting the BOC make a decision.
“I don’t want to send something really confusing, and I understand what everybody’s trying to do, but we might have some issues with it,” she said.
The BOC is expected to hear the application on April 20, where they have the ultimate say in zoning matters.