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Overlay committee breaks Coal Mountain into character nodes
1PRINT Coal Mountain Sign WEB

An overlay in north Forsyth is one step closer to reality.

On Monday, members of the Coal Mountain Overlay Committee met once again to give input on the plan, which largely deals with design standards for commercial properties.

As the group worked at its third meeting to determine what it will tackle, Director of Planning and Zoning Tom Brown recommended a cohesive overlay for the area.

“My recommendation is you do one complete overlay and you have a base set of rules that applies to every piece of property in the overlay and the focus on quality,” Brown said. “It’s on raising the bar, starting with the low-hanging fruit and taking anything else the committee is up for.”

Also discussed were plans for having three nodes, or areas with different standards.

As proposed, the nodes will go along Hwy. 369 between certain roads: a Matt node from Barrett Road to Heardmont Trace Road; a Coal Mountain node from about Gravitt Road to the Ga. 400 intersection; and a Hammond’s Crossing node from the GA. 400 intersection eastward to about Mashburn Drive.

“I always think to myself, ‘Am I going to Hammond’s Crossing or am I going to Coal Mountain,’” said group member Christine Becnel.

Brown said the nodes, which have been a major discussion point in the update to the county’s 20-year comprehensive plan, are meant to each have a certain feel.

“The nodes are about character,” he said. “They’re about defining something; what’s a little different, what’s a little unique about this area.”

The group also looked at buildings both locally and across the state and country and gave input on design standards, such as types of paint.

During the meetings, the group has favored more neutral and earth-tone colors than bright, vibrant paints favored by national brands.

Also discussed were adding plant buffers to businesses, lowering the height of monument signs and limiting the number of “theme buildings,” or businesses that have added aesthetic elements to the building for visibility and branding.

Most commercial-zoned properties that will be affected by the overlay are currently under a moratorium on the acceptance of land disturbance permits until March 20. The moratorium was approved in December 2016 and affects parcels in Districts 1, 4 and 5.

The area of the moratorium is diamond-shaped with four points.

The original boundaries of the moratorium were the intersections of: Matt Highway (Hwy. 369 west) and Bannister Road to the west; Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306 east) and Dahlonega Highway (Hwy. 9) to the south; Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369 east) at Six Mile Creek to the east; and Hopewell Road and Hwy. 9 to the north.

Parcels at the intersection of Elmo Road, Matt Hwy. and Bannister Road were added at a Jan. 10 work session.

After the committee concludes its meetings and work, public hearings for will be held before the county’s planning board and commissioners. The overlay can be adopted after the hearings.