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Apartments at The Collection denied by Forsyth County commission
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SOUTH FORSYTH — An overlay that could have led to new apartments at an outdoor small in south Forsyth has been denied.

Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-2, with District 1 Commissioner Pete Amos and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills against, on Thursday to deny the South Forsyth Lifestyle Center Overlay District. The overlay would have led to apartments being allowed at The Collection, a popular outdoor mall in south Forsyth.

“We now have three votes in favor of the motion, which was to deny, and that means the motion was successful; the south Forsyth Overlay is defeated,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

The motion approved on Thursday was originally made last November, when a 2-2-1 tie was reached with Chairman Todd Levent and then-District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff in favor of denial, Mills and Amos against and then-District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam recused.

“You may recall, we had an even number of board members voting on the overlay because one of the commissioners that is no longer on the board had recused,” Jarrard said. “In light of the turnover of the board, it was my determination the best course was to allow this current board to consider the overlay.

Neither Tam nor Boff sought re-election last year and new commissioners Rick Swope, of District 2 and Laura Semanson, of District 5, were able to break the tie. Both voted in favor of the denial, and Levent, Amos and Mills could not change their votes.

The proposed overlay extended over the current area of the shopping center with a community zone to the west in an undeveloped area and would have required a change to the county’s unified development code.

The development had been proposed with a maximum of 309 units and a building that could have reached up to five stories atop a one-story parking deck.

Also included were an outdoor amphitheater, open space and additional office/commercial/retail/restaurant space and a beautification project for Ga. 400’s Exit 13 was part of the proposal.

In summer 2015, commissioners began discussing the addition of housing at the mall on Peachtree Parkway to expand to a mixed-use, or live-work-play, development.

Public hearings were held before commissioners and the county’s planning board before the issue was tabled in December 2015.

There was no discussion of the overlay, public hearing or speakers at Tuesday’s meeting, but at previous meetings the support largely came from those who had businesses at the center, with nearby residents opposed.

Many of those opposed to the overlay pointed that with Tam recused there was not proper representation for District 2, which has previously been an issue in discussions on the Sharon Springs cityhood movement and district versus county-wide voting for commissioners.

“The leader who I elected cannot actually vote on this and it’s something directly in my district, so that’s taking away my right,” District 2 resident Rene Guidry said at a previous meeting. “Who do I hold accountable for this? It’s none of the actual people who are voting on it, because I can’t vote for you.”