NORTH FORSYTH -- A major development has been proposed at a busy north Forsyth intersection.
At a work session on Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners discussed a proposed town center development at the northeast and southeast corners of the intersection of Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369 east) and Dahlonega Highway (Hwy. 9 north) and voted unanimously to take the matter up at the their May 9 meeting.
The plan involves using up to $25,000 from the county’s Development Authority to create connectivity for about 100 acres owned by six property owners or partnerships. About 60 acres in the proposed area was approved for an age-restricted development in February, which has been seen as an improvement to the Res-6 zoning in 2005.
Landowners previously met with county officials and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce to discuss the plan, which Tony Peters, who is vice president of community development with the Chamber and who presented the plan, said was to “take the temperature of landowners.”
“I mean simply exploring with them whether they would like to talk further about the uniqueness of their assemblage being next to each other and finding ways, if there was an opportunity, to bunch them together in a way to see what the layout could look like in development compared to them going individually all by themselves,” he said.
Peters said the area had been designated as one for such developments in the ongoing update to the county’s comprehensive plan and by the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee.
According to the soon-to-be-approved update to the 20-year land use plan, town centers “should act as hubs for their surrounding areas, often featuring a mix of commercial, office, and sometimes residential space in more clustered, walkable formats with multi-story buildings.”
The plan would involve hiring a firm to create a plan for the property, which would involve interviewing property owners, holding workshops, putting together a concept, taking the concept back to the landowners and revising the plan.
“This step of engagement with the owners and the Coal Mountain community is a step toward preserving a unique opportunity to conceptually lay out what this would look like outside of them doing it themselves,” Peters said.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the area, said the plan would not be rezoning property.
“There’s no connectivity. There’s no making this being a master planned community,” she said. “It’s taking the comp plan and it’s making a town center out of it.”
She said the town center would be able to do things the county would not, such as creating a road through the proposed development that will connect with the coming traffic signal at Hwy. 9 and Smith Lane near North Forsyth High School.
“If this were a master planned community, we could do a road that would go in the middle of that, the developer would, where you can have a road connecting Settingdown through there, we can’t do that without a master plan,” she said.
Commissioners raised issues using public money on a private development, saying they feel the plan does not bind landowners to follow through. Requiring a future developer, rather than the landowners, to repay the cost was proposed, but no final decision was made.
“I don’t like the idea of spending public dollars on a private plan that may not ever get executed,” District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson said. “I like the idea of a master plan; I don’t like the idea of spending public money for it.”