A 450-acre mixed-use development has been proposed in southwest Forsyth, and this week commissioners got an early look at what is being considered for the project.
The board of commissioners voted to have county staff continue working on the proposed Davidson-Forsyth overlay, which would provide standards for 450 acres located between Peachtree Parkway, Westminster Lane and Old Atlanta Road.
“It would be something fairly unique in Forsyth County,” said BOC Chairwoman Laura Semanson. “It definitely would be the largest-scale project, and that they’re doing it as an overlay, sometimes that gets people’s antennas up because they play by a different set of rules. This would be one of those things where just by the sheer scale of it and including all the different types of uses, doesn’t fit neatly into our [unified development code] as it stands right now…”
Before making their decision, commissioners heard from Jeremy Hull and Stan Williams, with Nelson Worldwide, LLC, who gave a presentation on the plan so far, which is in the planning stages and still being developed.
“This is a living document that we keep updating and pushing forward, but we wanted to get something in front of [commissioners] to show you what the intent was to make sure that we’re heading down the right page and this is a format everyone can kind of get behind and will cover everything we need to cover to give you guys the ammunition to enforce this,” Hull said.
The plan largely did not deal with specifics but instead was a chance to show what was being considered, give commissioners a chance to ask questions and look at what has been successful in similar mixed-use projects, like Halcyon in South Forsyth or Avalon in Alpharetta.
The property is part of an 800-acre tract used by an existing quarry. The quarry is being reduced to 350 acres, leaving the rest to be developed.
The presentation went over a variety of topics that are being considered, including architecture, facades, storefronts, art and lighting, landscaping and standards for a parking deck.
The project is being planned with six areas, or pods, that would have different uses and standards.
“This will cover densities, open space, all the kind of overarching development regulations as far as the main parkway that goes through there, what it’s routing will be, where there are natural areas on the site and again what use and density that use would create in each pod,” Hull said.
Part of the discussion also focused on roads through the project and how it would connect different sections.
“We’re going to have a network of roads throughout these pods connecting different neighborhoods,” Hull said. “We may end up with more street sections than this when it’s all said and done, but for now, we’ve got a local road that works through all these, which I think marries up with county standards as far as road widths and making sure that it is accessible from a fire standpoint.”
Hull said greenspace is also a priority in the development and would include interactive parks, trails, smaller pocket parks, playgrounds, walking areas and dog parks.
“Within the residential areas, we’re going to really promote pocket parks and … an interconnected network of greenspaces,” he said. “Those add not residential value but great open spaces throughout the neighborhood.”
No timeline for the project was given during the meeting.
In January, Forsyth County Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the county, SCARF Forsyth Ga, LLC and Midsouth Paving Inc., to move ahead with the planning process for the development.
Per the document, the proposal is for a “roughly 400-acre development that is intended to be developed with a mix of retail, office, restaurant, entertainment, residential, green space, public safety and educational purposes.” The development would be immediately north of the Forsyth Quarry.
At that meeting, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said a recent proposal to move production of asphalt from an existing plant at the quarry to a new plant located about 0.7 miles away was “one of a series of things that were intended to be done” to bring the mixed-use development.
In December, commissioners voted to remove without prejudice a request for a county-initiated conditional-use permit (CUP) to build a new asphalt plant on Granite Lane, just off Peachtree Parkway.
With the county removing their request, the property owner can now submit an application.
County-initiated decisions are often a quicker process than those submitted by developers, which had been one of several issues for neighbors, who opposed the new plant due to concerns about the future land use of the area, safety and the proximity of the new location to some homes.