Forsyth administration building

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County has proposed a change in how it designates a “lot of record,” for properties that were recorded before it formally adopted its unified development code.

If approved, the change would allow certain properties to be developed as they were recorded, through a land survey or another avenue, between Sept, 24, 1973, to May 22, 2000.

Currently, if a plat was recorded in 1995, for example, but was not formally approved by the county, it would not be recognized. A new plat would have to be recorded following current zoning standards.

If the proposed change is approved, the county would now recognize that lot as valid, and it could be developed without further approval from the county, Planning and Community Development Director Tom Brown said.

The proposal was spurred by what Brown called a “pretty informal process” of recording plats and rezoning in the 1970s and 1980s. Interpretating the intentions of those approvals can be tricky. There is some concern that, during that time, some developers or residents believed they had created a valid lot based on the process at that time based on advice from county staff, and this move would ensure those lots are valid.

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Prior to 1973, Brown said properties to be developed were essentially given a “free pass” because Forsyth County did not have its zoning regulations in place. In May 2000, the county passed its unified development code, and all developments are required to meet those stipulations to receive a building permit.

The scope of the change, if approved, would be limited, though.

“For a typical homeowner living in a formal subdivision, or a swim/tennis community, it is unlikely this change is going to have much to do with their lots,” Brown said. “More often it would be about agricultural lots, or lots created decades ago.”

The Planning Commission voted April 26 to recommend approval to recognize these plats as lots of record. The issue will soon go before the Board of Commissioners for a vote.

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