Pinewood Forrest vote presents wrinkle for City Hall

Ognio-v-Pinewood-Forrest

Fayette County Commissioner Randy Ognio was the lone opponent to the City of Fayetteville’s approval last week of Pinewood Forrest Phase One. Ognio said the 232-acre mixed-use development will too greatly disturb the current rural feel of the area. Ognio’s objection was made during the Fayetteville City Council “public comments” time.

Fayetteville’s city council last Thursday approved a zoning amendment so that Pinewood Atlanta Holdings could proceed with the first phase of their Pinewood Forrest mixed-use development, but the 3-2 vote had conditions attached that have apparently caused a wrinkle at City Hall. City officials Tuesday afternoon were saying they have concerns about the vote and have sought a review by legal counsel.

As presented, Pinewood Forrest is meant to be a 232-acre mixed-use development featuring hotels, apartments, town homes, houses, parks, ponds, restaurants, shops, and a chapel. Phase One of the development, representing a little more than half of the overall acreage, would potentially include one of those hotels, at least one fine-dining restaurant, other shops, town homes, and single-family homes, all within a zoning called Planned Community Development (PCD).

Within this particular PCD, city staff had recommended that residential fire suppression systems be required for homes built close together, as most if not all of the homes in Pinewood Forrest would be. This would represent the second development in the city, the first being The Villages next to Fayette County High School, to require fire sprinkler systems inside single-family homes.

However, when it came time for the vote Thursday night, City Councilman Jim Williams moved to approve the zoning amendment with the stipulation that the sprinkler systems not be required in single-family homes within Pinewood Forrest. Councilmen Scott Stacey and Paul Oddo voted with Williams to pass the approval. Councilmen Ed Johnson and Mickey Edwards voted against the motion.

During previous conversations about requiring fire sprinkler systems in PCDs, Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones told city leaders that, especially in neighborhoods with narrow streets, high density and far distances from fire stations, in-home fire sprinkler systems can be potential life savers. He said they are particularly effective in preventing the spread of fire from house to house.

City officials said Tuesday they are reviewing the vote with City Attorney David Winkle’s office, seeking advice on how to move forward.

It has been suggested that, if Pinewood Forrest is allowed to be developed with this sort of exception to the fire sprinkler rule, future PCD projects would have a potential precedent allowing them to also build without the additional fire safety measures.

Architect Bill Foley with Pinewood Atlanta Holdings on Thursday night specifically asked for the project to be exempted from the fire sprinkler requirement based on the costs associated with having them installed. He said they wanted to keep costs lower so the homes can be more affordable. On the other hand, he and colleague Jim Pace say at least a few of the homes in Pinewood Forrest will likely be built over the $1 million mark.

When asked for a timeline, Fayetteville City Clerk Anne Barksdale said the city should have an answer from Winkle’s office by the end of the week.

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