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There Will Be Sunflowers No More
As long as longtime local residents can remember, the corner of Hwy 9 and Shiloh Road in south Forsyth County comes alive with color every summer. For over 20 years, the Andersons have plowed, furrowed, and planted three fields of sunflowers on this corner. A few weeks later, the fields are bursting with greens and yellows, as well as bees, bouquet pickers, and photographers.
Families come from all around to wander through the fields and pick sunflowers for bouquets or buy them already harvested from a booth on the corner. Photographers gather from all over as well. The fields will be packed with people taking snapshots with their cellphones, professional photographers with lights and models, and everything in between. The sunflowers only last a few weeks, and usually, the flowers are so trampled that they have to close them early.
2020 will forever be known as the year of the pandemic, and few events could possibly overshadow the Covid-19 virus that swept the planet. But to those who live near the Anderson farm, it may also be known as the last year sunflowers will be planted. I have been there twice in my four years as a Forsyth County resident, and I hope for just one more trip.
For as long as we have lived here, there has been a sign and a billboard announcing that Sterling Estates of Forsyth will be coming soon. Every year we feared the end of the sunflowers and were pleasantly surprised when plowing began in the summer. But according to their website, Sterling Estates Forsyth is finally slated to start construction in 2021.
Last year just past the end of sunflower season, the Forsyth County commission approved the rezoning from urban village (UV) and agriculture (A1) to UV with a conditional-use permit. This permit will allow Sterling Estates to go ahead with construction on the new community, which will take over the 44-acre farm.
Planned are 130 assisted living units, a 90 unit independent living facility, 100 single-family attached units, and 19 detached units. Nine acres of the land will be left as open space. Other planned facilities include:
- A 10,000 square foot wellness center
- An indoor salt-water pool Several dining rooms
- A clubhouse
The exterior planning will have include gardens, dog parks, a bocce ball court, and over half a mile of walking paths.
Currently, there are two other Sterling communities in metro Atlanta, both in Cobb County. One in East Cobb has been around for six years, and the newest one in West Cobb just opened in 2018 and won national recognition from Senior Housing News in 2019. The Forsyth County location will be modeled after the West Cobb location.
Sterling Estates has been taking reservations for years, and I know of at least one person that has been on their list for quite some time. They offer what they call the Sterling Advantage Club for people signing up early. The benefits include
- The first choice of residences
- A lock on the first year's rental rates
- Extra customization
- Discounts on HOA fees
- Potential savings of up to $25,000
This stretch of Highway 9 also includes the massive Traditions community and a small over-55 neighborhood. It is also close to both Vickery and the Polo Golf and Country club. Despite that, the four-mile stretch of Atlanta Highway between Mullinax/Post Road and Bethelview/Hwy 141 remains mostly the way it has for decades. Farms, hayfields, and long-closed down chicken houses can be seen throughout this stretch of the once rural highway. As a child, I remember riding this road in the backseat of my Dad's '57 Bel Air, seeing cattle farms and chicken coops.
It remains to be seen if there will be time for one more planting of sunflowers before the transition begins. If so, I would encourage you to get there early as the crowds will likely be record-breaking.
I know that I will pay one last visit.