Fayette County


Fire sprinklers no longer required at The Villages

The Villages developer Roch deGolian walked away from the Oct. 15 Fayetteville City Council meeting smiling after council members unanimously approved a measure that will lift a requirement that in-home sprinkler systems be installed in the remaining houses to be built in the subdivision.

The original agreement between The Villages developers and City of Fayetteville representatives goes back more than 15 years ago, and it allowed for an unprecedented density of detached, single-family homes, which would be connected by a series of narrow one-way streets. One of the conditions to the agreement was that in-home fire sprinkler systems be built into the homes to keep any fire in one house from spreading to others in such close proximity.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2015.

A few months ago, Pinewood Studios Atlanta development company Pinewood Atlanta Holdings approached the city and asked for similar residential home density in its new Pinewood Forrest neighborhood across the street from the studio campus, but the Pinewood folks also asked for permission to build the homes without the costly sprinkler systems. One difference in The Villages and the proposed Pinewood Forrest concept is that all of the streets in Pinewood Forrest would be developed as two-way thoroughfares, and the entire community will be serviced by larger than normal water supply systems thanks to its proximity to the Pinewood Atlanta Studios project.

Fayetteville Fire Department officials put up an argument for city council to deny Pinewood’s request, but the movie studio folks ultimately won their votes.

The Villages developer deGolian watched the Pinewood Forrest discussion with great interest, and, when the city nodded in favor of axing the fire sprinkler systems, deGolian quickly requested relief from those same requirements.

Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones said he recognized that the Pinewood Forrest allowance set a precedent that would make it impossible to require the fire sprinkler systems at The Villages moving forward, but he and deGolian worked together to address existing fire safety concerns before the city officially granted deGolian’s request.

The biggest change coming to The Villages, according to the agreement inked just over a week ago, is that fire lanes will be designated throughout the subdivision, and low tree branches will be cleared to make way for large fire trucks to travel unimpeded under them.

“We gained some things we did not have before,” Jones told city council members. “This was the best solution with what we could make out of it.”

“There were some valid concerns,” de Golian said, noting that he was glad to be finally moving forward with the approval and new allowances.

By Danny Harrison

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.