Things could soon look different in south Forsyth.
On Monday, Feb. 24, Forsyth County officials hosted a community workshop for the public to look at new proposed commercial design standards and marketing plans for the southeast portion of Forsyth County.
“Essentially, the idea is to get feedback on the proposed commercial design standards for south Forsyth,” Alex Fite-Wassilak, with architect TSW. “What we’re trying to do is illustrate some of the standards on the boards and get some feedback.”
The marketing portion of the meeting dealt with a proposed new logo for the area, along with smaller logos and designations for character areas within south Forsyth, and a slogan: “Our Community. Our Home.”
“Our charge is to begin with the existing Forsyth County logo because it’s good, it works, there’s been a lot of investment on it, but to use that graphic identity and create a sub-identity for the south Forsyth area that plugs into this but that somehow presents the unique character of the south Forsyth area,” said Aaron Arnett, with Arnett, Muldrow and Associates, a branding firm that often works with TSW.
Once approved, those logos would be used for marketing materials, on signs on the roadway and in commercial areas.
For the commercial standards, proposed changes include not allowing parking decks that do not match the main building; signs would have to match primary building materials and could not be electronic message boards; requiring amenities, such as landscaping, be provided; and prohibiting building exteriors being more than 25% stucco, among other changes.
The next step in the process is going to county leaders.
“From here, we’ll kind of integrate these standards into a revised draft, then it will go before the county commission, first at a work session, then to the planning commission and the whole public comment process,” Fite-Wassilak said. “This is essentially the last step before it goes to the commissioners.”
Residential design standards for the area were approved by county commissioners in August and went into effect in December.
Those standards get into rules for landscaping, materials, windows, garage doors, building orientation to the street and accessory buildings and structures for individual lots.
For neighborhoods, the standards establish specifications for open space, connectivity and walking, monument signs, lighting, landscaping and site design.
The idea of a south Forsyth identity has been heavily discussed in recent years, particularly after the 2018 vote to create the city of Sharon Springs in south Forsyth. While voters supported the new city with about 54% of the vote, it failed to reach the required 57.5% of voters, a compromise between a simple majority and two-thirds majority.
About 50,000 people would have lived in the area of the proposed city.
Among the reasons given by those supporting the city were increased control in zoning decisions and creating an identity for an area where many residents have an address for a city based outside of the county, such as Suwanee, Alpharetta or Johns Creek.
Since the vote, county leaders have taken steps to remedy some of those issues.
During a discussion for the residential design standards in August, speakers on both sides of the issue referenced Sharon Springs, with one speaker in favor pointing to the identity issue and a speaker opposed saying the standards would create a “de facto city” in the area of the proposed municipality.