SOUTH FORSYTH -- Forsyth County planning board members may soon vote on a proposed 200-plus lot subdivision near Fowler Park, per discussion at a work session Tuesday evening.
Meritage Homes of Georgia Inc. filed a request last May to rezone 287 acres of agricultural district, or A1, and commercial business district, or CBD, between Atlanta Highway (Hwy. 9), Castleberry Road and Majors Road to a master planned district, or MPD.
The proposal originally asked for 344 residential lots and 84 attached residential units with a density of 1.48 units per acre and 49,800 square feet of commercial buildings with 239 parking spaces.
However, at the work session Tuesday, District 3 planning board member Patrick Britt, whose district the application falls in, said he has been working with the applicant and its lawyers to reduce the number of lots to just less than 300.
He also said at the Jan. 31 public hearing that he will likely suggest a downzoning from MPD to single family residential Res-2 and Res-3 districts.
“At this point in time, we have a good number of conditions with Meritage,” Britt said. “We’ve gone back and forth with them in regards to everything from roof pitch to Res-2 and Res-3. We started with 433 homes and now we’re down to 275.
“We’re trying to finalize this so we get homes that bring out this property – it’s an incredible piece of property – and we’ve put a lot of time into it.”
The time spent, Britt said, has resulted in more than 50 proposed conditions, including an exact number of Res-2 and Res-3 homes.
Though he didn’t have the plan with him Tuesday, Britt said the breakdown would be about 60/40 Res-2 and Res-3, respectively.
Those zonings are considered less intense than a MPD and would reduce the property’s overall density by making lot sizes larger, while also potentially reducing the need to mass-grade the site.
Lot size determines how a property is developed, said Vanessa Bernstein-Goldman, deputy director of planning and community development for the county.
Britt also said of the 50-plus conditions, at least 20 address the proposed commercial component of the property. Planning members previously raised concerns about the commercial part not being built in a timely manner on MPDs.
Current MPD standards require a development be 25 percent commercial, 25 percent residential and 20 percent open space.
This, District 4 board member Bettina Hammond has previously said, is to alleviate the concern “that the residential portion will be developed without the commercial component.”
The 25 percent commercial space requirement does not guarantee stores and businesses will, in fact, move in, though; the condition only requires that builders have the space dedicated for commercial use.
Because of Britt’s Res-2 and Res-3 conditions, the Meritage property may not be required to have 25 percent commercial space.
However, the concern is the same: that the residential will be built out and the commercial won’t come in.
To alleviate the concern, the planning board could include additional conditions that require commercial to be secured before all the homes are built.
“I have no problem saying we want 75 percent of the commercial [brought in] by [the time] 40 percent of the residential is completed,” Britt said.
He also said he told the applicant the homes need to be more upscale.
“Our feedback to Meritage was we need you to step it up on the market that you’re trying to address,” he said.
The application is scheduled to appear before the planning board at their Jan. 31 public hearing, where they may vote to send the application to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation to approve or deny.
The BOC meeting is currently set for Feb. 16.