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FORSYTH COUNTY, GA-Big-box developers are facing more challenges in fast-growing Forsyth County, an Atlanta suburban area that has been attracting new retail development quickly over the last five years, area brokers following the submarket tell GlobeSt.com.

Elected officials here have drafted an ordinance that would bar single-use buildings over 75,000 sf from setting up shop next to residential subdivisions; would require a demolition bond on vacated big boxes; and would prohibit developers from allowing former properties to become a blight on the community.

The county will be scheduling workshops on the issue before holding public hearings, county staffers tell GlobeSt.com. County commissioner Charlie Laughinghouse spearheaded the ordinance proposal last year after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it was planning to build 200,00-sf-plus stores near affluent subdivisions on GA 141.

Brokers attending the county’s recent public meeting tell GlobeSt.com commissioners favor the ordinance to curb big-box developers from abandoning older properties without first making attempts to find a new tenant or redevelop the site. The demolition bond could be cashed by the county and the proceeds used to level an abandoned storefront if the landlord and retailer fail to try and redevelop the property after the retailer has left for a new location.

Commissioners also maintain high infrastructure demand by new big-box developments often outweighs the economic benefits to a community. Elected officials charge some developers even tie-up leasing provisions to prevent competitors from renting the vacated properties too quickly.

The county is pushing the ordinance not only to ensure quality commercial growth in a community but also to advise big-box developers in advance what Forsyth County demands in new developments, according to retail brokers familiar with the issue.

Representatives of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot and Target Inc. couldn’t be reached for comment by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline.

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