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Steering committee continues map work
Detailing definitions of character areas
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Forsyth County News

What’s next
Get involved at the next public participation meeting to give input on policies for the Forsyth County comprehensive plan update.
* When: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday
* Where: Forsyth County Administration Building
* Online: compplan.forsythco.com

In moving forward with Forsyth County's update of its comprehensive plan, a steering committee is detailing the definitions of each character area on the future development map.

The map, which reflects preferred future land use, will serve as a planning policy guide for the years 2012-32.

Each character area has a set of appropriate land zonings, development strategies and measures.

Wednesday night, the steering committee discussed the possible impact of these color-coded sections as the county grows.

Vanessa Bernstein, the county's senior long-range planner, advised the committee that the 21 character areas should each provide a distinct look and feel.

“Suggested zoning districts are just that,” Bernstein said. “Going back to that idea that the comprehensive plan is just a guide, it’s not a mandate.

"But again, the planning commission and the board of commissioners need guidance when they’re reviewing a proposal about what these character areas mean.”

In its review, the committee did not change any of the recommended zonings for each area as set by staff.

Seven of the nine members in attendance discussed changing the best zonings to capture the intent of suburban attached living, a character area the committee created at its previous meeting.

However, the group stayed with just one zoning of Res-4, or four units per acre, for the sparsely used category.

The development corridor character area attracted much of the interest of the committee, which agreed to add a line in the plan to investigate incentives for developers who reuse or retrofit older, existing buildings.

“That’s been one of our concerns over many, many years,” member Pam Livesay said.

The development corridors, which are primarily commercial or industrial, are shown on major highway routes, including Hwys. 9, 20 and 369, and parts of Ga. 400.

The committee also agreed to add a statement that the engineering department will work to keep reasonable traffic flow within the development corridors so the areas aren’t overbuilt.

On Ga. 400 north, after the state access ends, the character area changes to a business and retail parkway corridor.

Sparked by public input, the committee agreed to add a statement that a study be conducted regarding clustering auto dealerships to both development corridor and business and retail corridor.

On the county's south end, the group added a statement to consider incentives for developers who construct multi-story buildings or parking to reduce impact on the Big Creek watershed.

The committee also discussed whether high-density residential uses should be incentivized for businesses falling in the employment center category.

“Our map is primarily residential, so we want to make sure that we save these development corridors for developments that are primarily non-residential in nature, but we would allow mixed-use,” Bernstein said.

The committee plans to meet twice in June to review policies and begin discussion on a short-term work program, which includes the first projects the county could tackle to achieve its vision.