Residents attended a town hall on Thursday, Aug. 11, to talk to Forsyth County commissioners about two proposed rezonings for a combined 100 acres of light industrial use in north Forsyth.
Both items are on the agenda for the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18.
The rezonings are on the east side of Ga. 400 and are county-initiated requests.
The first is a request for Pacific Group to rezone 36.8 acres from agricultural district, or A1, to restricted industrial district, or M1, on Settingdown Road, south of Bottoms Road and about half a mile from Ga. 400.
A public hearing was held for the project on June 2, and residents from the Hampton community gathered to speak in opposition of the project.
The second rezoning is a request for the Hughes Group to rezone 74.3 acres from agricultural, or A1, highway business, or HB, and commercial business, or CBD, districts to restricted industrial district, or M1, on Bottoms Road and Ga. 400.
The application also includes a request for conditional-use permits, or CUPs, for breweries and distilleries, cold storage plants and frozen food lockers, food processing plants, kennels, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, an open storage yard, research laboratories and ancillary manufacturing, self-service storage, climate controlled, transportation, communication and utility facilities, except truck terminals, conducting around the clock business hours.
A public hearing will be held for this item on Thursday, Aug. 18.
What residents had to say
Some concerns from residents include a possible increase in crime and truck traffic that they feel the two projects could bring.
A few Hampton residents resisted both projects, with one woman saying that it was a “crime to tear down all that natural environment.”
“We keep building and building and building, and soon, there’s not going to be anything left,” she said. “We’re destroying this county with all the over-building to make money. We have enough; let’s stop.”
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Could the industrial parks bring more crime?
Chief Dep. Joe Perkins of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said he had reviewed industrial parks and the crime reports in other areas prior to the town hall meeting.
According to Perkins, he said crime at complexes like Bluegrass and the Meadows in south Forsyth are “consistent with any other development that you would put in that type of area,” with “very few” break-ins.
Hampton resident Joe Hecht, who is said he was opposed to the project at the June 2 public hearing, said he thought commissioners “[were] forgetting” that new development, whether residential, industrial or commercial, would require additional deputies.
This would mean more payroll, patrol cars and benefits, he said.
Truck traffic a concern for area residents
One of the biggest concerns was the possibility of increased truck traffic in the Hampton community.
Hampton resident Andy Coleman said he thought the industrial park directly on Ga. 400 and Bottoms Road “absolutely … belongs there,” but he didn’t think the project off Settingdown Road was appropriate for the area.
He said that as a life-long resident of the area Settingdown Road was “not a commercial corridor” and could not handle truck traffic.
“I do not choose Shiloh Farms, because I don’t want to live amongst industrial,” Coleman said. “I am protected by Settingdown Road from the businesses on [Ga. 400] by a natural buffer, and it needs to stay that way.”
Coleman said the rezoning would set a precedent for other industrial parks and facilities to move in “all up and down” Settingdown Road.
Other residents were concerned about the safety of children with trucks going north on Bottoms Road crossing in front of the Hampton Park Library to get to Ga. 400.
At the June 2 public hearing, Kevin Siefert from Pacific Group said that “his group was … agreeable to include a right-only exit upon the competition of a traffic light at Bottoms Road and Ga. 400,” as previously reported by the Forsyth County News.
This would push traffic south on Settingdown Road towards Bottoms Road, instead of allowing traffic to flow north towards the Hampton residential area.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the 74-acre rezoning with CUPs on Thursday, Aug. 18.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners regular meeting will be held at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 18, at the county administration building at 110 East Main Street in Cumming.