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BOC postpones transmittal of comprehensive plan
Commissioners will hold public hearing on Aug. 4
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Discussions about transmittal of the county’s comprehensive plan have been tabled for another public hearing set in August following a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, July 7.

Commissioners heard from Amanda Hatton from Blue Cypress Consulting and Lauren Blaszyk project manager at Pond & Company about comprehensive plan updates stemming from meetings with the county’s planning team, steering committee and community members.

Hatton explained that the long-term vision of the county’s comprehensive plan is to “promote responsible use of our natural assets and green space while advancing a balanced growth management strategy that strengthens and sustains quality of life for everyone.”

Some ways of accomplishing those goals are to “invest in our quality of life, improve mobility, enhance community character, expand infrastructure that furthers our vision for growth and development, facilitate job opportunities and maintain and expand greenspace.”

Blaszyk presented about land-use refinements that have been proposed by the “collaborative” efforts between county committees and residents.

She said some proposed modifications to the county’s comprehensive plan include three boundary changes and a change in commercial corridor policies to “guide scale, look and feel of development” in the designated areas.

The three nodes with proposed boundary changes are Campground, Big Creek and McFarland.

Blaszyk also noted there was a desire from committee members to move Mullinax, Fowler and Union Hill roads out of the McFarland Regional Node, some wariness of new commercial and mixed-use development and that high-density projects were not well received.

“There’s definitely a desire to maintain lower density and preserve some of the single-family areas that are existing,” Blaszyk said.

Hatton said the planning commission recommended a few changes as well, such as removing the references of master planned districts (MPD) from the Haw Creek and Daves Creek character area, reducing the McFarland/Shiloh Road regional node and stating that vehicle service establishments and new and used vehicle sales are appropriate within the north Ga. 400 character area outside the regional node and “should be located along corridors adjacent to Ga. 400 and should be properly screened to maintain the county’s natural beauty.”

A final recommendation was to remove M2 as an allowable zoning in the Etowah character area.

During discussion, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills asked why the planning commission recommended removing references of MPD from the Haw Creek and Daves Creek character area.

“To make it where there’s no opportunity to do anything … I mean, I don’t know why we paint ourselves in a box where there’s no opportunity,” Mills said.

District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson, who represents that character area, said most parcels of land in that area “aren’t appropriate” for mixed-use developments.

Semanson said she only could “[guess] the logic behind” the planning commission’s recommendation.

“Most of the parcels aren’t appropriate …and if I’m to guess the logic behind that is [because] we do get more of these smaller parcels coming forward seeing that as an … acceptable use … I’m getting it for very small tracts,” Semanson said. “What I would call either adjacent use, not true mixed-use or … mullets. They’re business in the front, they’re party in the back and that’s all there is to it.”

She said she could think of one parcel of land that could be used as an appropriate MPD, but not many others came to mind.

Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, deputy director of the department of planning and community development, said the removal of MPD references was to align with a “steering committee conversation” that centered around removing the zoning from the reclassification table.

Regarding the reduction of the McFarland/Shiloh Road regional node, District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent was concerned that the modification would affect a request to rezone 140.6 acres near Denmark High School to MPD.

At a planning commission meeting on June 28, planning commissioners voted to recommend denial of the project “due to density issues.”

According to Bernstein-Goldman, commissioners will need to adopt the comprehensive plan by October, allowing the board to postpone its decision until no later than Aug. 4, to be sent to the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Commissioners voted to hold another public hearing about the comprehensive plan on Aug. 4 with a unanimous 4-0 vote with District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper absent.

Tom Brown, director of the department of planning and community development, said he would schedule a public hearing about the county’s unified development code prior to adopting the comprehensive plan to discuss the MRD.

According to Brown, during the discussion, the steering committee struggled to find appropriate areas in the county for this zoning, and he recommended that the zoning needs more study.