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Pinewood Forrest neighbors want less density, more details

Architect Bill Foley with Pinewood Atlanta Holdings on Tuesday night showed Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission members updated conceptual plans for Pinewood Forrest, a proposed 232-acre mixed use development that would be located directly across Veterans Parkway from Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The studio campus is also owned by Pinewood Atlanta Holdings. City council members are scheduled to review annexation and rezoning requests at their May 7 meeting and take a vote at their May 21 meeting. (Photo by Danny Harrison)
Architect Bill Foley with Pinewood Atlanta Holdings on Tuesday night showed Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission members updated conceptual plans for Pinewood Forrest, a proposed 232-acre mixed use development that would be located directly across Veterans Parkway from Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The studio campus is also owned by Pinewood Atlanta Holdings. City council members are scheduled to review annexation and rezoning requests at their May 7 meeting and take a vote at their May 21 meeting. (Photo by Danny Harrison)

If Pinewood Atlanta Holdings, which owns Pinewood Atlanta Studios, is granted annexation and rezoning permission, the development group plans to build two hotels, several parks, a small amphitheater, a chapel, more than 175,000 square feet of commercial buildings, 714 single-family homes, and 324 apartment homes on 232 acres of land, about a fourth of which is un-developable wetlands.

All of this, currently called Pinewood Forrest, would be located just across Veterans Parkway from the Pinewood Atlanta Studios campus. It would also be located adjacent to the 47-acre Sorrow Family property, situated to the north, which has two homes on it.

Michael Sorrow, who along with his wife owns one of those homes and 44 of those acres, told Fayetteville Planning and Zoning commissioners Tuesday night that the currently proposed density is too high and will too negatively affect the rural lifestyle he and his family were seeking when they bought that land on Veterans Parkway several years ago. Sorrow also said he is concerned about the conceptual drawings, which show a bunch of those apartment buildings going right up next to his property line with little to no buffer.

Architect Bill Foley with Pinewood Atlanta Holdings later responded that the drawings aren’t complete yet, and he said they only reflect the nature of what would be built there. Foley said they have already agreed in writing to put a 50-foot buffer between the Pinewood Forrest development and the Sorrow Family property. The Sorrow Family says they’d rather see a 200-foot buffer.

“We support progress,” Sorrow said, noting that he feels Pinewood Studios Atlanta has thus far been a good neighbor. He said he hoped the city would “do the right thing” and limit the density allowed next to the surrounding rural properties.

“We’re looking at maintaining that rural lifestyle,” Sorrow said.

Sorrow also suggested the city should wait to see more specific development details before approving the requested annexation into the city.

Donald Fowler, who lives on Hood Road just south of the proposed Pinewood Forrest property, said he, too, believes Pinewood Atlanta Studios has been a good neighbor, though he has concerns about how Pinewood Forrest as currently proposed could negatively affect the local community, which is completely rural.

Fowler said studio representatives regularly keep him and his neighbors informed about things that they are doing that may affect them, such as when filmmakers may be flying helicopters low or when they will be making unusually loud noises.

“I have the only neighbor in the State of Georgia who calls when they shoot their machine guns,” Fowler told Planning and Zoning commissioners.

What Fowler says he particularly dislikes about the most updated Pinewood Forrest drawings is that it shows plans to build two new intersections along Hood Road.

Conceptual drawings of the project show a total of four entrances, including two along Hood Road and two along Veterans Parkway. One of the Veterans Parkway entrances will line up with the existing Sandy Creek Road intersection, and the other will be lined up with what is now the construction entrance located by the old barn.

The Pinewood Forrest entrances proposed for Hood Road are strictly for safety purposes, Foley said in response to the voiced concerns. He said he believes the Veterans Parkway entrances will be the primary access points.

Fowler submitted a petition, which he said is signed by all 16 Hood Road residents, asking the city to not allow Pinewood Forrest access onto Hood Road.

Environmental scientist Dennis Chase, a Fayette resident who regularly advises local governments on environmental issues, also strongly urged city planners to carefully consider the affects Pinewood Forrest, if developed as drawn, would have on the local environment. Storm water runoff and the potential for pollution are key concerns, he said.

Chase noted that the 232 acres in question currently have zero impervious surface, but he says the Pinewood Forrest development as drawn would have several hundred thousand square feet of impervious surface.

“I don’t care how good your engineers are, they’re not going to be able to stop the massive amount of runoff from this property,” Chase said. “This is an environmental disaster about to happen to Whitewater Creek.”

Chase later said he believes it is possible, albeit expensive, for developers to properly mitigate storm water issues on large developments like Pinewood Forrest, but he said just meeting state standards won’t be enough. He said he would like to see the city require more storm water planning up front for this project.

Chase told city planners he knows they already have normal procedures in place to require certain amounts of storm water infrastructure, but he said a project on the scale of what is being proposed here is larger than normal and should be more closely analyzed before moving forward with approvals.

“This is too big to leave it as it is,” Chase said. “You must insist on them coming back with significant storm water treatment features.”

P&Z members voted unanimously Tuesday night to offer a favorable recommendation to Fayetteville City Council regarding annexing and rezoning the Pinewood Forrest property. The first city council public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m. A second hearing and a final vote is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, also at 7 p.m.

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.