NORTH FORSYTH -- At their final meeting of the year, Forsyth County commissioners unanimously approved a 30-day moratorium on the acceptance of land disturbance permits for most commercial developments in the Coal Mountain area.
“The notion is we have had some increases in development and also hints of future development,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said. “As the board is aware, once land development permits come in the door, the Board of Commissioners’ options with respect to any support of regulation are significantly diminished.”
The area of the moratorium is diamond-shaped with four points.
The boundaries are the intersections of: Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369) and Bannister Road to the west; Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306) and Dahlonega Highway (Hwy. 9) to the south; Browns Bridge at Six Mile Creek to the east; and Hopewell Road and Hwy. 9 to the north.
The moratorium effects portions of Districts 1, 4 and 5 and paves the way for a proposed overlay in the area that would primarily deal with architectural standards and aesthetics.
If a portion of a property falls into the moratorium area, the entire property will be under the moratorium. The commercial portion of master planned district, or MPD, zonings will be subject to the moratorium.
The moratorium only applies to properties under the county’s unified development code chapter 12, which are commercial and office districts. Industrial zonings are not in that part of the code and will not be affected.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the idea came after several businesses that were approved before her time on the board — including a new Walmart, parcels around the store and a development at the corner of Hwys. 9 and 369 — recently began to be built out.
“If we didn’t act right now with the moratorium, there was so much coming in for permitting that was zoned a decade ago that I was afraid we would miss the opportunity and never have this chance again,” she later told the Forsyth County News.
She said the intent of the possible overlay is to create a “feel” for the Coal Mountain area.
“I didn’t want to have happen what has happened in other places, where it comes in just one strip mall after another after another and it not have a feel,” Mills said. “I’m hoping that you will feel like you’re at Coal Mountain, that you’re at a destination.”
Mills said the county plans to update design standards based on Foster Forsyth, the county’s ongoing update to the 20-year comprehensive plan, but development is coming “so fast that there wasn’t time to wait on that.”
Before an overlay is in place, public and stakeholder meetings will be held. Mills said the community can also email her their input for the area at CJMills@forsythco.com.
“I would love for it to turn into what the community would like it to be,” Mills said. “I don’t have a preconceived notion of what this should be. I think it should be whatever the taxpayers, the community, wants it to be.”