AS THE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF Ackerman & Co., a mostly commercial developer, Mike Martin knows land. So when he came across a 411-acre parcel of land with 4,500 feet of frontage along a river in Forsyth County, about 30 minutes north of Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachians, it seemed the perfect toe-hold into residential development. Except one thing: It was located next to a 780-acre solid waste disposal site.

But after checking out the dump's facilities, he concluded the adjacent land would be an easy sell. “The landfill is extremely well buffered, and it's extremely well operated,” he says.

The dump constitutes roughly 20 percent of the landfill's total acreage, and a wooded area camouflages it from neighboring parcels. Moreover, the landfill's management company has strict policies to bury waste within an hour and to keep the entrance area free of loose trash.

“It's one of the cleanest stretches of roadway in Forsyth,” Martin says. “It looks like an entrance to a country club almost.”

Martin says the area became attractive to developers once the county extended the public sewer system to that part of the county. “The whole area of the county has … four, maybe five additional subdivisions planned,” he says.

Ackerman & Co. has been approved for 616 lots and plans to set aside 40 percent of the developable land as green space. Martin estimates that the lots will be ready for building in 2006.