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Mixed-use development off Ga. 400 in north Forsyth clears planning board
Ga. 400 Settingdown Circle
WP South Acquisitions, of Atlanta, is requesting to rezone 51.7 acres from commercial business (CBD) and multi-family residential (Res6) districts to master-planned district (MPD) for 310 apartments and 39,100 square feet of office/retail/restaurant/commercial at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Settingdown Circle.

A mixed-use development on Settingdown Circle and Ga. 400 has cleared the Forsyth County Planning Commission.

At a meeting on Tuesday, June 22, members of the planning commission unanimously recommended approving the rezoning of 51.7 acres from multi-family residential (Res-6) and commercial business (CBD) district to master-planned district (MPD) for 310 attached residential units with a density of 6 units per acre and commercial buildings totaling 39,100 square feet with 172 parking spaces at 4715 and 4735 Settingdown Circle and west of Ga. 400, north of the intersection with Bottoms Road.

“Laying our cards on the table, the reason that this is put forward to you is most people we talk to don’t like what the property is zoned for,” Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing developer WP South Acquisitions, told the board. “So, this was brought forward as an alternative that is more in keeping with the quality the county is looking for.”

A variance is also being requested to increase the percentage of total residential units from apartments from 20% to 100%.

With the approval, the request will next go to the Forsyth County commissioners.

Underwood said the development is planned to include 170 one-bedroom and 140 two-bedroom and will have 172 commercial parking spaces and 468 for residential use.

The property will be accessed from Settingdown Circle and an existing turnoff on Ga. 400 and a new spine road will be built through the property connecting to the development to both roads and to the Falls at Forsyth apartments to the north.

Underwood said a separate sketch plat application for the Res-6 portion of the property would call 253 townhomes on 16.4 acres on the property and the request before the planning board would mean about 50% more greenspace than that proposal, which would include and will include a pool, dog park, outdoor seating, an outdoor grilling area and other amenities.

Commercial buildings in the development would also have to abide by standards in the Coal Mountain Overlay.

Underwood was the only speaker in favor of the project, and the only speaker in opposition was Robert Sykora, who owns property near the development and had concerns related to traffic, trespassing and the plan not lining up with the county’s MPD standards.

“Let’s just be honest, this is not MPD,” Sykora said. “If you look at the MPD regulations and what it states it’s supposed to have, it doesn’t have it. It talks about… ‘[the zoning] allows for a mixture of complementary land uses based upon existing planned road networks in order to ensure safe and efficient transportation patterns.’

“Now, we’re going to put 310 apartments with access to vehicles on Settingdown Circle.”

District 2 Planning Commissioner Nedal Shawkat said he also believed the proposal did not perfectly fit the MPD category but felt it was better than the Res-6 plan.

“It is an MPD by the definition, but maybe not by the spirit,” he said. “We often have this conversation about, ‘Is this an MPD? Is this what we envision?’ and often look to Avalon or Halcyon as to what an MPD should be. While those are MPDs, that’s not the only way an MPD can form.”