There will be some that will say that the Comprehensive Plan carries little weight in zoning decisions and that most people need not be terribly concerned, but recent history proves that that is simply not the case.
The whole Lanier Golf Course fiasco started when the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map (FLUM) was changed in a private meeting between a past county commissioner and the past director of planning and development. Throughout the last update process, the golf course was designated as “private parkland, a golf course. The subarea committee recommended that it be “private parkland.” The steering committee recommended that it be “private parkland” and during the public hearing process the map showed it as “private parkland.”
After the public hearings and just days before approval by the BOC, it secretly changed. There was no input from the subarea committee, no input from the steering committee, no input from planning staff and no input from the public. The property’s color on the map simply went from light green to light blue. That doesn’t sound like much but that color changed the property’s designation from “private parkland, a golf course” to “activity center, a large high density mixed use.”
It was now the recommendation of the Comprehensive Plan that golf course, which is located in the heart of a low density single family residential community on a secondary road, be developed with high density, multifamily residential mixed with a high concentration of commercial uses. At the top of the real estate bubble, just before the crash, the property owners found a buyer willing to pay an extremely high price based on the land being developed as recommended by the changed FLUM in the Comprehensive Plan. That was a little over 5 years ago, and since then the area residents have spent countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to protect their community from an outrageous development plan which had its conception in a corrupt, secret change made in the dark of the night to the FLUM.
If the residents of Forsyth County want to see the orderly development of the county and their communities they best pay close attention to the current plan update every step of the way. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake for the few who, as we have seen, have a great deal of influence.