Land along Kelly Mill Road previously considered for a Hindu temple may be used as part of a neighborhood, according to the project’s attorney.
On Monday, Sept. 13, a public participation meeting was held to discuss a pair of proposed projects by applicant Sri Ram Samsthan Inc., that would be built on both sides of Kelly Mill just east of the intersection with Bethelview Road.
Ethan Underwood, a zoning attorney representing the development who led the meeting, said his client was focused on an application that would rezone 61 acres from agricultural (A1) and single-family residential restricted (R2R) districts to single-family residential district (Res-3) for a project to build 88 single-family detached homes.
The project is planned to include a passive recreation area around an existing pond and other amenities.
An application had also been submitted for a conditional-use permit to build a place of worship, a 34,890-square-foot temple with an ancillary structure of 2,025 square feet and a 15,000-square-foot priests’ residence with 143 total parking spaces on 18.2 acres zoned A1, the portion of the property north of Kelly Mill.
Underwood said though the permit had been applied for, the applicant was planning to not move forward with the temple project if the neighborhood project was approved.
“What we [are] asking in exchange for [moving the temple project] is to zone the entirety of the property Res-3, as opposed to just 41 acres, it will be the whole 61 acres,” Underwood said. “What we have done is, we’ve talked about the temple, we’ve held it in abeyance, and what that means is it’s out there, but if the Res-3 zoning gets approved, we’ll withdraw the temple.”
Owners of the property on Kelly Mill also own land on Ronald Reagan Boulevard, which is zoned for commercial use and held as an investment, and Underwood said the temple project would likely move there.
The temple and priests’ residence project, which was included with an original request to rezone about 42 acres on Kelly Mill for 64 residential lots, led to a tense meeting between developers and neighbors at a meeting in March.
At that meeting, residents raised concerns about how much traffic and noise would be generated by the development, impacts on local schools, whether the design of the project would be allowed under county rules, how the developments might impact property values and concerns about large gatherings.
At Monday’s meeting, tensions were much lower as Underwood and neighbors discussed the neighborhood project.
Underwood said developers had heard back from Forsyth County staff about the project, who felt the property on the north end should be zoned single-family residential (Res-2) district.
When asked why the plan for the north side was for Res-3, Underwood said it was due to the lot width and size standards.
According to Forsyth County’s Unified Development Code, Res-2 zonings have a minimum lot size of 30,000 square feet and a maximum density of 1.3 acres per unit for homes with septic tanks and 22,000 square feet and 1.5 acres per unit for those on a public or private sewer. The zonings would also have a minimum lot width of 100 feet.
Res-3 zonings are only allowed in areas with public or private sewer and allow for a minimum lot size of 14,750 square feet as long as the minimum average of 18,500 square feet, a maximum density of 1.8 units per acre and a minimum lot width of 80 feet.
Both properties require a minimum heated floor area per dwelling unit of 2,000 square feet.
Underwood said the homes in the neighborhood would be at least 2,800 square feet.
Another issue raised at the March meeting, which showed the residential units having flat, rather than pitched, roofs, was also removed from the current plan.
During the meeting, there were also discussions that two of the homes planned for the northern property would be across an existing pond from the other residences, which some felt could be incorporated into the neighboring Old Field Chase subdivision.
The rest of the neighborhood would not be accessible from Old Field Chase.
While several of those in the meeting were more comfortable with the neighborhood, there were still some questions and concerns about road and pedestrian safety along the road, including the nearby extension of the Big Creek Greenway.
Underwood said the temple use would likely have more traffic than the neighborhood.
“I think everybody has said the temple is going to have more traffic,” Underwood told one attendee. “Residential is going to have traffic, we admit that, but the general consensus is it would be more from the temple, especially at certain times.”
Several speakers also said they were in favor of the neighborhood over the temple.
“Having been one of the people who was most against the previous plan, I commend you for the new plan,” one speaker said. “Something is going to be built on that piece of property… this plan with this size house, with this size lots, is probably the best plan that we are going to have. I think we would be a little bit ridiculous if we didn’t support it.”