FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County is keeping the door barred on residential construction in the northern part of the county until it can adopt design standards for dwellings.
The northern portion of Forsyth County, District 4, has thousands of lots zoned for residential but approved with minimal or no architectural standards.
To ensure the aesthetic quality of the residential buildout, the county wants to set architectural standards for the zonings that have sat idle for years.
At its meeting Nov. 16, the Forsyth County Commission extended a moratorium on accepting land disturbance permits in the district for properties zoned residential between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2012, except for agriculturally zoned property.
The moratorium was first adopted in April to expire in May, but was extended to Nov. 17. The latest moratorium lasts one year.
The board said the moratorium is reasonably necessary and uses the least restrictive means available.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said a consultant will help the county draw up architectural standards, but it will take at least seven months to get a product back. Then, the proposal will have to go through the appropriate county departments.
There are exemptions, Jarrard said, including it won’t disturb developments that have been recently rezoned or affect development rights that have been vested.
That exemption will be narrow, he said, but if someone is working on an outstanding permit, it won’t disturb that.
Attorney Ethan Underwood spoke in opposition of the moratorium saying he’d like to challenge the premise that it takes 10-12 months to update architectural standards.
“I can negotiate that with you in four (months),” Underwood said. “If I file an application with you, we can file architectural standards and get it done by February of next year. But we’re saying we can’t do that for the old ones in four months.”
Underwood said the moratorium is being used to rezone applications to lower intensity zoning categories.
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills of District 4 said the county can modify the moratorium if they see a need.
“We have the ability to refine the moratorium during the moratorium period,” Jarrard said. “We did that during the moratorium on Res 3s. We refined it. We have every right to do that. In fact, if the board wants to go that route, it should refine it.”
Mills said she understands that developers want their products done.
“People want a seat at the table to give input because they know these implications are far reaching,” Mills said. “You want to rush it on one hand, but you don’t want to not have a voice on the other. We need to be careful it’s done correctly instead of thrown together and you have something neither side can live with.”