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Builder wins approval to proceed with large-scale home development in Forsyth County

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Ethan Underwood

Attorney Ethan Underwood speaks on behalf of Rockhaven Homes and their plans for a residential development on Old Federal Road at an Aug. 19 commission meeting. The county gave final approval for the plan with a list of more than two dozen conditions. 

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Homeowners along Old Federal Road may gain more neighbors soon after the Forsyth County Commission gave final approval Aug. 19 on plans for a development that will include 177 single-family homes.

The commission vote followed weeks of negotiations with the developer, Rockhaven Homes, and the county.

Commissioners introduced the matter for public hearing at a special called meeting Aug. 12 to allow residents to weigh in on the plan.

The development includes 158 acres across from the county landfill on Old Federal Road.

The discussions involved the effect a large-scale development would have on surrounding property owners and on the Etowah River.

Developers win Forsyth County approval for impact study on proposed mixed-use community

Attorney Ethan Underwood, speaking on behalf of the developer, pointed out that much of the site has already been approved for construction. Underwood also objected to conditions the county placed on the property 15 years ago because, he said, many of them have become irrelevant considering recent road improvements.

The property has been zoned residential/conservation since 2005. Most of the adjacent land is zoned agricultural.

Underwood said the current site plan includes 60-foot buffers around the perimeter and 73 acres of primary and secondary undisturbed conservation areas with significant frontage on the Etowah River.

Underwood also said developers had agreed to prohibit land disturbance on the conservation areas in perpetuity with a conservation easement with the county.

Neighbors took issue with the plan at the public hearing.

Andy Henderson, a homeowner with land directly to the east of the development, said he and his family do not intend to grant access for the sewer to run through his land. Henderson also said that the proposed plan does not preserve any land.

“This plan conserves nothing other than un-buildable land and required buffers that would be required even without being a conservation subdivision,” Henderson said. “We’re not going to relinquish any of our property rights or rights to privacy and will exhaust every legal objection under the law.”

Developers pitch major mixed-use community in South Forsyth

Resident Caitlyn Cleveland, whose property is surrounded by the proposed development on three sides, said she moved to Forsyth County after a long search to find peace and privacy. She said a 60-foot buffer is not enough to ensure the quiet she had invested in through her home purchase.

Right now, Cleveland said, there are fewer than 20 residents on Old Federal Road, and the additional housing will not only be a noise issue but will also be a public safety issue with higher traffic in an area with several blind drives and hills.

“It’s really going to completely change my experience of living on my property. Not just from impacting the views but also noise levels,” Cleveland said. “The traffic situation on Old Federal Road is already a huge concern.”

Forsyth County’s latest set of conditions on the 158 acres, approved Aug. 19, include construction of a 25-foot greenway trail along the north side of the river. The trail will be dedicated to the county to ensure public access. The list also includes black vinyl fencing along the northern bank of the Etowah River and along the boundary with the Henderson property.

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