Fayetteville council concerned over Pinewood Forrest impact

Fayetteville City Council members say they love the idea and general design of the new Pinewood Forrest mixed-use development being proposed for Veterans Parkway across from Pinewood Atlanta Studios, but they also indicated Thursday night that the necessary annexation and rezoning approvals may have to be delayed until several concerns are resolved.

Pinewood Forrest, which architect Bill Foley says is just “a holding name”, is being developed by Pinewood Atlanta Holdings, the parent company of Pinewood Atlanta Studios.

Already, Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission members have twice reviewed conceptual drawings for the 232-acre development, but as they are only a recommending body on annexations and rezonings, they could merely pass along their unanimous recommendation for city council members to approve Pinewood’s requests. That approval could come as early as May 21, when city council members are scheduled to hold a second reading and public hearing on Pinewood Forrest’s annexation and rezoning, but they indicated during their first reading Thursday night that more homework may be required before that approval happens.

The conceptual plans presented Thursday night differed slightly to presentations Pinewood Forrest representatives have made in the past. While earlier drawings called for the development to eventually offer 714 single-family homes, 324 multi-family homes and 200 apartments, the newest drawings show 600 single-family homes, 600 multi-family homes and 101 town homes.

According to Foley, the latter drawing’s term “multi-family homes” encompasses both rental apartments and purchasable condominiums. He has said on multiple occasions that these early drawings only reflect the ideas of what they are wanting to build, but they do not lock in any specific detail.

It is not required that final design specifics be determined before the city approves annexation and rezoning requests, but are a helpful tool for cities to determine the appropriateness of annexations and rezonings.

After Foley presented the project to city council members Thursday night, Councilman Jim Williams, who once served as Peachtree City’s city manager, said he is not worried about the project’s density, which at a proposed 5.5 units per acre paints a stark contrast to a contiguous 47-acre parcel that has only two homes on it. However, he said he does want to see the city stipulate a capped number of residential units on the whole property before approving annexation and rezoning requests.

When members of the Sorrow Family, who own the contiguous 47-acre tract, repeated their concerns that apartment buildings were being planned along the border of their property, they asked the city to consider imposing 175-foot buffers against their property. Already, developers have agreed to minimum 50-foot buffers along the north and south property lines, but Foley said they would be fine with increasing that buffer to 100 feet behind any apartment buildings that may be placed on the northern edge of Pinewood Forrest.

Williams said he would like to stipulate 100-foot buffers, including berms, fences and other screening elements for both the north and south borders. The eastern border of the property consists of dozens of acres of unbuildable wetlands, and Veterans Parkway lies on the western front.

Stormwater issues again were raised Thursday night, following a similar discussion led by environmental scientist and Fayetteville resident Dennis Chase at last week’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Williams and Chase both say they want to see Pinewood Forrest leave local streams and wetlands in better shape than they are now through mitigation efforts.

Foley said Friday afternoon that their plan is to exceed the city’s expectations on stormwater management. “We’re very excited about what we can do with our retention ponds,” he said.

As to the buffer issues, Jim Pace, who also works for Pinewood Atlanta Holdings, says they are going to continue to be good neighbors and talk through the concerns recently raised by the Sorrow Family as well as residents who live along Hood Road.

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About

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.


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