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County mulls land-use map changes
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Forsyth County commissioners have scheduled a public hearing today that could determine whether they make changes to a section of the county's comprehensive plan.

Some say the changes, which involve combining aspects of the future land-use map with the as-built and zoning maps, could upset property owners, while others say the changes are minor.

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter said she thinks "it's illegal ... because combining the maps could bring down the densities of property owners."

"Changing future land use to as-built is wrong unless you have all your interested [parties] come out to voice their opinions," Ledbetter said. "I'm not completely against it, I just want the process to be more transparent. You're supposed to get state approval for this kind of thing."

Vanessa Bernstein, the county's senior long-range planner, said the proposed changes are considered minor and do not warrant state approval.

In a previous work session, Bernstein presented the board with a draft proposal of the future land-use map that included changes based on approved rezonings or residential densities for complete major subdivisions since the map was last updated in 2004.

Approved rezonings are represented in county zoning maps, while as-built maps represent the current state of the property beyond the zoning process.

According to the county's comprehensive plan, the future land-use map is intended to depict just that -- a future land-use scenario. The map is an extension of the goals and values of the community.

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse said the changes to the future land-use map are "just basically to show where we are."

"We have no plans to change any properties at this time," Laughinghouse said. "This is preliminary ... we have a land-use map from 2004 that is outdated ... The changes are to bring the land-use map up to date."

Planning Commissioner Mary Helen McGruder said making the changes is a "very subtle way to decrease density and substantially slow down growth."

McGruder said both the as-built density and zoning maps are "good tools, but neither belong with the future land-use map."

A draft of the proposed future land-use map is available at the planning department's Web site,
Several public hearings have been held on the proposed changes. The item is on the agenda for consideration at 5 this afternoon.