Norcross leaders to consider impact of Safe Carry Protection Act on city

NORCROSS — City Council members will soon decide how HB 60, Georgia’s Safe Carry Protection Act, will impact the city and its day-to-day operations when it goes into effect on July 1. City Manager Rudolph Smith, acting on instruction from council members, will prepare a resolution and present it to city leaders at the June 16 policy session.

The resolution will officially change the name of the Norcross City Hall building to “City Hall and Municipal Court.” The addition of “municipal court” designates the building as a gun-free zone, with the exception of police officers’ weapons.

According to Smith, an ordinance will also be drafted that outlines in detail how HB 60 will impact security, screening procedures, areas where guns can be carried and whether employees can carry weapons during work hours.

Variances granted to developer of Adams Vineyard subdivision

Several variances to the city’s development regulations were granted to applicant and developer Robert Forro on Monday. Forro, who was the developer of the Lum Howell and Col. Jones subdivisions in Norcross, is now developing the innovative conservation subdivision, Adams Vineyard, with Brock Built Homes.

The $40 million, 62-home, 20-acre project will consist of about 40 percent greenspace. “We are banking on (the home buyers) being willing to pay more for these houses because of the park-like setting,” Forro told mayor Bucky Johnson and council members Monday — a hope that justifies the lower density development.

Adams Vineyard will have an underground storm water detention system, something the city’s Director of Community Development, Jon Davis, would like to see more of in Norcross. The virtually pipe-free system allows for fewer curbs and gutters in the development, something that Forro says preserves the historic character of the North Peachtree Street/Reps Miller Road area. In the greenspace areas, there will be no curbs and gutters, which is one of the variances granted on Monday.

Forro also said that no deceleration lane, which is normally required by the city, is necessary. That variance was granted, also.

The only points of concern and extensive discussion to council members Monday were tree and sidewalks. There are several old specimen trees on the site, and councilman Charlie Riehm said the he wants to make sure that all possible measures are taken to preserve them. Forro explained that there will be no clear-cutting on the site. Each lot will be carefully cleared when construction begins, a policy that is more expensive but allows for more precise and careful tree removal.

One of the early zoning provisions for Adams Vineyard is the granting of a pedestrian easement, allowing access to anyone who wishes to walk the gravel and mulch trails in the private subdivision. In exchange for granting that easement, Forro asked that he not be required to install “traditional” linear sidewalks near the road. Several council members balked at that request, insisting that connectivity of sidewalks throughout the city is critical.

Lengthy discussion on the matter of sidewalks resulted in an agreement that, within three years, Forro will either install traditional sidewalks, or he will write the city a $45,000 check, the estimated cost of installing the sidewalks, and the city will have them installed. The permanent pedestrian easement will still be granted to the city, a stipulation that prompted Forro to tell Johnson and council members that, “You’re getting your cake and eating it, too.”

Ultimately, all five of Forro’s requested variances were granted.