Neighbors criticize environmental impact of Fayetteville ‘mini-city’

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Bennett’s Mill Lake resident J.D. Holmes says 265-home development will increase silting of lake, making it even more shallow. Photo/John Thompson.
Bennett’s Mill Lake resident J.D. Holmes says 265-home development will increase silting of lake, making it even more shallow. Photo/John Thompson.

A proposed development by Folia Communities that could alter the look of Fayetteville’s west side did not exactly receive a hero’s welcome by nearby residents June 7.


Above, Bennett’s Mill Lake resident J.D. Holmes says 265-home development will increase silting of lake, making it even more shallow. Photo/John Thompson.


The mixed-use development bordering Lake Bennett on Ga. Highway 54 and South Sandy Creek Road includes 265 detached homes, 100,000 sq. ft. of retail, 50,000 sq. ft. of office space, 20,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space and 20 attached residential units above retail. Total cost of the miniature city is projected at more than $94 million.

On Thursday, Planning Director Jahnee Prince asked the City Council to table the issue for two weeks since the city’s staff was still trying to work out a final developer agreement, which is an element of the Planned Community Development the applicant is seeking.

Fayetteville Planning Director Jahnee Prince. Photo/John Thompson.
Fayetteville Planning Director Jahnee Prince. Photo/John Thompson.

Mayor Ed Johnson agreed, but allowed the developer to speak concerning some of the conditions the city wants in the biggest development in Fayette County, outside of Pinewood Forest.

Rob Beecham, who represented Folia Communities, first took issue with the minimum lot size of 7,000 sq.ft and used Pinewood Forest as an example.

“Pinewood Forest has lots that are 3,000 sq.ft,” he said.

He also took issue with the requirements that all residential units should have front porches and front-facing garages.

“Probably 90 percent will have porches, but we don’t want it to look like tract housing. We’re about the aesthetics and want it to look unique.

City Councilman Rich Hoffman quipped that unique was good in case all the residents came home inebriated and needed to find their home.

Fayetteville City Councilman Rich Hoffman. File photo.
Fayetteville City Councilman Rich Hoffman. File photo.

He also said he could not guarantee that a grocery store and pharmacy would locate in the development, but would offer those businesses incentives.

“That’s really more market-driven,” he said.

Johnson also allowed J.D. Holmes to speak, who represented many of the residents who currently live on the lake.

Holmes said at least a 100 ft. buffer should be established to help protect the lake which is getting more shallow. Holmes said the lake is currently 4-5 deep, as opposed to residents saying it was more than 20 feet deep 30 years ago.

“We are not opposed to all development, we just want to protect the lake,” he said.

Holmes also cited the city’s zoning ordinance which requires all PCD developments to be in “harmony” with adjacent developments.

“That area is surrounded by two-acre lots,” he said.

The rezoning request is expected to come up for a final vote June 21.