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Mixed-use project on Mathis Airport moves past planning board
Construction

Plan for a mixed-use project on Mathis Airport Parkway will go to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners despite some concerns from the county’s planning board.

At a recent meeting of the planning board, members voted 4-1, with District 3 planning member Jessica Thorsen opposed, to recommend approval of a request from JWC Atlanta to rezone about 24 acres at 6390 and 3710 Mathis Airport Parkway from master-planned (MPD) and commercial business (CBD) districts to all MPD for a development with 78 residential units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space with 67 parking spaces.

“Would I have rather had much less residential intensity? Sure, but knowing that it was already zoned MPD and already had entitlements for townhomes on it, I wanted to make the best of the situation of what’s underneath it,” District 2 planning member Stacy Guy said at the meeting.

Developers said the residential portions of the project are proposed to include:

  •      26 single-family detached homes on 50-foot-wide lots with a minimum heated floor space of 3,000 square feet, two- or three-car garages and a price point expected to start in the $800,000s;
  •      36 single-family detached lots on homes on 50-foot-wide lots with a minimum heated floor space of 2,800 square feet, two-car garages and a price point expected to start in the $700,000s;
  •      And 16 single-family attached lots on homes on 50-foot-wide lots with a minimum heated floor space of 2,200 square feet, two-car garages and a price point expected to start in the $600,000s.

About 36% of the total land would be for open space such as courtyards between homes and a park amenity with a pet station, lawn game area, fire pit, arbor and patio, seating area and landscaped gathering area.

The commercial area of the development would not likely be for restaurants, developers said.

Developers said the property had been considered for several projects since 2002, including residential, mixed-use and recreation facility plans.

Forsyth County Planning and Community Development Deputy Director Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman said county staff was not supportive of the plan, which “lacks a strong focal point and separates land uses with a gated entrance to the residential portion, eliminating interconnectivity.”

“Although the proposed use is in conformity with the comprehensive plan’s appropriate zoning classifications, the proposal appears to be Res-6 with CBD rather than a mixed-use development that meets the purpose and intent of the master-planned district zoning category,” she said,

Thorsen, the only planning member to vote against the recommendation, said she also did not feel the zoning matched the MPD standards and the project was being accommodated because of previous plans and positive reputation of the builder, John Wieland Homes.

“I think my concerns with this… is this is not an MPD,” Thorsen said. “This is a Res-6 and a commercial, and what I don’t understand is if we’re going to go through the rezoning process anyway, why don’t we be clear about what we’re rezoning and come in to rezone it as Res- 6 and commercial separately.

“I guess that’s where my confusion is because we have pushed this through under the guise of an MPD when it is very clearly not that, and if we had pushed it through with the correct zoning categories, which is Res-6 and commercial, Res-6 isn’t in alignment with the comp plan.”

Guy said one element of the plan he had pushed for to help with the connectivity of the project was adding artwork in a planned roundabout/

“I think staff was critical of them not having a good focal point, and I agree, he said. “I pushed them kind of hard, and I was disappointed they didn’t go over and above on that effort. So, after they submitted, I pushed them on a condition to commission an art feature in that roundabout and have a condition that that art feature be approved by the district commissioner.”

The request will next go to county commissioners.