Forsyth administration building

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With Forsyth County’s continual growth, officials are studying new areas to designate as commercial corridors. The County Commission discussed the matter at its May 25 work session.

The county is in the early stages of updating its comprehensive plan, which serves as a guidebook for its future growth and land use. An initial stage in the current process is to outline where commercial and industrial properties should be concentrated, specifically areas that are not already outlined as commercial corridors, and whether these zones should not include any residential development.

The corridors are intended to be along major intersections or adjacent to other commercial uses.

The Board of Commissioners approved a list of about a dozen areas throughout the county adjacent to major intersections or roadways that it will consider adding to its list of commercial-focused areas. This list will be passed along to the county’s consultant, which will work to fine tune specific commercial areas and regulations on new developments within them.

The list of proposed new commercial corridors includes the Ronald Reagan Boulevard extension, Bethany Bend, Freedom Parkway, Ga. 53 and Ga. 9. North of Ga. 400, other future commercial corridors could include areas of Jot Em Down Road, Marsett Parkway, State Barn Road, Martin Road and Settingdown Road.

Though the board signed off on the list, there was discussion spurred by a suggestion by county staff that some of these areas could be designated as “commercial only” areas. Some commissioners expressed that if residential developments are permitted within these corridors, any new commercial or industrial growth  is likely to receive pushback from nearby homeowners.

Commissioner Alfred John said if an area was identified as a commercial corridor, but even one residential development was permitted in the area, any subsequent non-residential development would be met with resistance.  

“Any adjacent property that might consider going commercial might get pushback from those neighbors,” John said. “They don’t want any commercial adjacent to them, and that’s the problem we faced on Peachtree Parkway. Any commercial zoning that has come up, you get significant pushback.”

Commissioner Todd Levent said another example of that situation could be seen along Ronald Reagan Boulevard or on McFarland Parkway, two areas he believes “should have been” mostly commercial. However, he said, prior boards approved homes in those areas, and those homeowners take issue with new adjacent commercial development even through their homes should probably not have been approved there to begin with.

Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills said that is why transitional properties from commercial to residential, specifically mixed-use districts, are vital.

“The transition properties are just as important as along the corridors,” Mills said. “When we are looking at the commercial corridors, we need to make sure the properties that come off of that need to be transitional.”

Mills also felt the county needs to identify what kind of commercial and industrial uses would be allowable in these zones.

“You can only put so many strip malls along corridors,” she said. “We don’t want to have a bunch of dying strip malls out there.”

Further discussions on commercial corridors are slated in the upcoming weeks. The board is set to consider added regulations and design standards on new developments within these areas at a work session this month.

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