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Planning board recommends approval for mixed-use beside Brandywine Elementary
Liu Investments

A mixed-use development abutting Brandywine Elementary School has cleared the Forsyth County Planning Commission.

At a meeting on Tuesday, March 23, planning board members voted 4-1, with District 2 member Stacy Guy opposed, to recommend approval of a request to rezone 18.5 acres at 100 McFarland Parkway from commercial business (CBD), office and industrial (O&I) and single-family-residential (R1) districts to master-planned district (MPD) for a development with 59 attached residential units, 43,975 square feet of commercial buildings and 233 parking spaces.

The proposal will go to Forsyth County Commissioners for the next step of the zoning process. 

Christopher Light, a zoning attorney representing applicant Liu Investment Partners, LLLP said the current request was for fewer townhomes than the 64 that were originally planned and would include focal points for residents to gather, pocket parks, landscaping detail pedestrian walking paths and connectivity with Brandywine and 40% open space.

“All these things that the MPD really wants you to incorporate, we put this on a plan to submit to you guys because those are the things that are important and those are the things that are kind of what the MPD are looking for,” Light said. 

Ricky Bryan, of Bryan Properties, who is serving as the applicant’s broker, said that while there was not a lot of existing landscaping features on Hwy. 9, and the developer was even attempting to acquire a nearby former carwash to serve as an area for additional landscaping.  

“We want to clean that area up,” Bryan said. “The townhomes that are going to be built here are going to be $400,000- plus. They’re going to want to make that area better too.”

Bryan said the development includes flats over at least one of the commercial buildings, which he estimated would cost $2 million to build.

“The idea, we would build this building to a shell and keep the inside open so if someone wanted to put two together, if they wanted office and residential on top connected, we wanted to have that open because it’s a neat building, and I hope it’s a template going forward,” he said. “If it’s successful, we’d probably like to try it again on this site.”

One business planned in the development is a day care, Bryan said.

Light and Bryan were the only speakers in favor of the development during the public hearing and there were no speakers in opposition. 

District 3 Planning Board member Jessica Thorsen, who represents the area of the development, recommended approval with conditions, including that the project would follow the new plans for 59 townhomes, building permits for residential units will not be issued until the commercial portions are pad ready, commercial buildings will be “architecturally cohesive” to residential areas and others.

“We have been working on this quite in-depth. I know many of you have been involved with it with me,” Thorsen told attendees at the meeting. “We did have some feedback about trying to make this more of what we see a mixed-use should be, and I think we have very closely accomplished that.”

Guy, the only member of the board to vote against the approval said the proposal was “still not where I think it should be” but hoped to be proved wrong. 

“I’m concerned about the concurrency issues on this. I think what you’re going to get out of this … is townhomes and a day care center and grass fields,” he said, “and it’s going to look like that for years and years and years. The project is, essentially, already zoned CBD for the vast majority of it. It’s already got a zoning that is constitutional that conforms to the comp plan today.”