Forsyth HOA & Homeowners - Special Call to Action Newsletter
Today we are sending out a special edition correspondence to ask for a Call to Action on two very important issues relating to the proposed widening of Castleberry Road, and on the Board of Commissioners work session vote to increase the minimum lot size requirement for the RES3 zoning category.
Castleberry Road-widening Folly - Call to Action (information regarding this project was provided by the Forsyth Committee for Responsible Growth) This issue has been around for many years, as residents in that residential corridor have been trying to keep the road as a two lane with improvements. The is project has hit the radar of Forsyth HOA & Homeowners is because of a surprise million dollar gift from the state that showed up at last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting. The intent of the 'gift' is to help widen Castleberry Road.
The very next morning residents of this area contacted us with dismay, and subsequently provided us with this video showing the road is nearly devoid of traffic during morning rush hour.
click image above to view video
So we began to question why in the world we would be spending millions (appx. 12 million) to widen a road that is not even near to capacity, when there are so many other roads in this county that need help more? Commuters sit hours upon hours every day on roads like McFarland, Mullinax, Highway 9 and Georgia 400. Nobody knows why there is such a push to widen a roadway that is far from capacity, and is not even used as an alternate route to avoid traffic on other roads. Ask yourself, is if fiscally responsible to widen a road that does not need to be widened? The homeowners don’t want it… the voters don’t want it… the COMMISSIONER WHOSE DISTRICT IT IS IN (Todd Levent)… doesn't want it …and the traffic studies show it is not needed. In November 2012, there was a unanimous vote by the commissioners (including Amos and Tam), to “improve” rather than widen Castleberry. So why then, now.. are they back to wanting to widen “the road to nowhere?” Some area residents believe there is a hidden agenda by our legislators.
We spoke to some of our county employees, and were told that Castleberry does not actually need to be widened. The plans for Castleberry originally showed up on the SPLOST V ballot in March 2003 as road improvements, and not widening. In 2004 Forsyth County hired Gresham Smith & Partners (GSP) to study Castleberry Road Traffic. Their traffic report was used by county engineering as a basis to justify widening Castleberry Road. In late 2004 an independent traffic study was commissioned from the Engineering firm of New Fields by John Wieland. This study's conclusion was: "The widening of Castleberry Road to 4 lanes from Bethelview to Piney Grove Road cannot be justified based on analytically derived and defendable Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)projection assumptions"
Another traffic study was performed by Gresham Smith & Partners on 9/23/2011. This traffic study proved that the growth rates used in 2004 were grossly overstated. According to the 2004 study, the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) on this road was 6,270. It was originally projected to grow by 20% and reach 7,524 in 2005, and to reach 13,169 in 2011. However, the 2011 study states Annual Daily Trips (ADT) in 2011 to be only 7,218. Seven years later, actual traffic did not even approach the volume that was expected the very next year in the 2004 study, even though many developments had been completed on Castleberry. The last decade has delivered unprecedented growth and development for this area, and still the traffic volume has not even approached the 2005 projections for this road.
So should taxpayers throw away millions of dollars widening a road that was approved based upon a bogus traffic study? No. The law is clear that a local government has the discretion to make adjustments in plans for advertised SPLOST projects based upon new data. And in fact, it is the opinion of our county attorney, Ken Jarrard, that the SPLOST obligation for Castleberry has in fact already been legally satisfied.
If you feel Castleberry Road should not be prioritized for widening at this time, and would prefer to see our taxpayer dollars spent on roadways with more dire need, please email the following people IMMEDIATELY and ask them to stop the widening of Castleberry.
Lot Size for Residential District RES3 - Call to Action
During the time of recession, the building industry was hit hard all around the country. In an effort to help the industry recover, the Board of Commissioners voted to make UDC changes to encourage economic development in the building industry. During this time, with the intent to incentivize developers, the Commissioners voted to reduce the minimum lot size for RES3 by over 30% and stopped counting roof lines in setback calculations.
According to Commissioner Boff (D5) and Levent (D3) this brought on some unintended and unwanted consequences. Because of this, commissioners Boff and Levent have asked the other three Commissioners to vote to change the RES3 minimum lot sizes back to 14,500 square feet. Of the 22 zonings done in Forsyth County last year, 21 were RES3 or higher. Almost 60% of our new zonings approved lot sizes of less than 1/5th of a acre. And according to Commissioner Levent, “This is ALL high density.” We agree! And Commissioner Levent went on to say, “ We also approved a number of variances in these zonings reducing distance between homes, further increasing density.” “I do not believe this growth pattern is sustainable or compatible with the desire of our citizens, and will ultimately result in higher property taxes to support heavier infrastructure.” Our schools and roads are over capacity in much of the County.” “ I believe we need more balance in our density and more variance in our home styles.” “The character of a balanced residential county will influence Forsyth County Commercial Development as well.”
Please ask Commissioners Amos, Mills and Tam, to immediately revert the RES3 minimum lot sizes back to 14,500 square feet, and to disallow roof lines in side yard setbacks.