FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After five years in limbo, a mixed-use development off McFarland Parkway moved one step closer to fruition March 23 when the Forsyth County Planning Commission voted to approve zoning changes.
The zoning change request will now go before the Forsyth County Commission for a final vote.
The request by Liu Investment Partners seeks to rezone a 19-acre site at 100 McFarland Parkway, adjacent to Brandywine Elementary School, from commercial business district to a mixed-use designation — master planned district. The site plan calls for 67 townhomes and several commercial buildings totaling 44,000-square feet, dubbed Villages at Brandywine.
One building will include commercial spaces on the lower level with residences above in what Planning Commissioner Jessica Thorsen described as a “prototype” for the county moving forward.
The plan also calls for amenities like pocket parks, a playground, walking trails, a picnic area and open spaces.
Thorsen, who represents the area on the Planning Commission, said she is pleased with changes to the proposed development since it was first presented in 2016. She said she thinks it meets the requirement of a master planned district. The zoning designation promotes mixed-use properties that are compatible with surrounding land uses that also promote mobility within the site, transitions between commercial and residential properties and high aesthetic quality.
The original site plan called for 80 townhomes and a “big box” store commercial concept.
The Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval for the rezoning. Commissioner Stacy Guy cast the dissenting vote. He told the commissioners during a March work session he believed more residential-over-commercial buildings would benefit the development.
“I’m concerned about the concurrency issues on this,” Guy said. “I think what you are going to get out of this project…and I hope I’m wrong…is townhomes and a daycare center and grass fields. And it’s going to look like that for years and years and years. It’s gotten better, but it’s still not where I think it should be.”
Thorsen has argued the development could launch the beginning of a needed revamp of the area.
“Where I really support this project, and I’ve not made any secret of this, that area of Highway 9 needs help,” Thorsen said. “And I think this is a good step in the right direction to elevate that area and to attract better businesses, attract better commercial and kind of buffer and protect that school that’s there. Because, if you have [commercial business district] backing up to the school, you don’t know what you are going to get there, and I think that protects that school.”
The Planning Commission also recommended approval for two other rezoning requests that will move to the Board of Commissioners.
They include a request by John Wilson to rezone 29 acres from agriculture district to low-density residential to develop 28 homes at 5960 Hendrix Road. Also approved was Domain Realty’s request to rezone from agricultural district to residential 11 acres along Dickerson Road to construct eight single-family homes.