Forsyth County commissioners approved a less intense zoning for an application in Forsyth County, despite pleas from the landowner’s family.
Commissioners approved the rezoning of 24 acres from agriculture district (A1) to single-family residential Res-2 district for about 32 lots on Old Atlanta Road by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Pete Amos, District 1, and Cindy Jones Mills, District 4, opposed.
District 2 Commissioner Rick Swope, who represents the area, said he agreed with a point made by Mills of being careful of being a “renegade board” with decisions and seek to stay with the zoning process.
“In my observation so far, I think the greatest danger on a renegade board would be the possible distrust that would be engendered should a board or an individual board member, as I will accept that responsibility, look to move by fiat rather than trying to solidify the integrity of the process,” Swope said.
During two public comment periods, there were speakers in favor and opposed to the less-dense zoning.
Generally, homeowners in the adjoining Margate neighborhood favored Res-2.
“We have been in discussions with the builder and the landowner and number of us including the [Margate] board. We have been in a strong support of Res 2, but should there be a Res-3 resolution, we came to terms with the builder,” said William Malone, a resident of Margate.
That change would have reduced one lot from the original 38 to match lots in Margate.
Several members of the Higginbotham family, which owns the land, spoke in support of the Res-3.
“In our case, although we met all the county guidelines for Res-3, our newly elected District 2 leader recommended Res-2, without ever really telling us why,” said Bill Higginbotham. “Two weeks ago, we watched the same District 2 leader vote for Res-3 on a similar rezoning request on Melody Mizer [Lane]. This was so close to us the county made my brother and I walk there and catch the bus when I was in the third grade.”
Joe Ingram, with homebuilder Ashton Woods Homes, said before the vote the company would not be able to move forward with the Res-2 zoning.
“If it gets zoned Res-2, per our current agreement with the Higginbotham family, we’re not able to still participate in the deal,” Ingram said. “There is opportunity for us to remain on board at a lesser density, but we can’t absorb the loss of six lots, I think it was.”
Mills said the approval to Res-2 could lead to a cheaper product, which she said would impact the county and neighbors.
“My fear is that it will be zoned to a Res-2 and you’ll get somebody that will come along and that will want to build there” she said, “but it might be a D.R. Horton or it might be a different product that will come in and all of a sudden this board will have made a decision to go with something that will be $250,000 homes instead of $600,000 homes.”