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High court declines to hear golf course suit

Attorney: Case on to the next round

POSTED: October 10, 2012 12:35 a.m.
 

The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a request to hear the case from a neighbor of Lanier Golf Club, which has been wrapped up in litigation for about five years.

The case originated in 2007 when Michael Peck, who lives adjacent to the 172-acre course, filed suit against Lanier after the owners announced plans to sell the golf course site for development.

Peck’s suit was based on the grounds of an implied covenant when he purchased his property, which if the court agreed, could stop development of the site on Buford Dam Road.

The Georgia Appeals Court ruled in March that Peck did not have implied easement rights, following a May 2011 court decision granting summary judgment to the course owners, Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr.

The Oct. 1 order from the state court denied the writ of certiorari, or a request to hear the case, filed by Peck’s attorney, Bob McFarland Sr.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with it,” McFarland said. “That just means they didn’t take the case. They only take [a small percent.]

“The case will come back down to Superior Court and it will continue on just like it did.”

The decisions of the higher court pertain only to Peck, the original plaintiff, who was followed by 25 other residents.

Peck was denied class-action status in the matter, but the State Appellate Court ruled in July 2010 that he still had a case.

The Supreme Court’s denial of the appeal request will send the matter back to Judge Frank Mills of Cherokee County Superior Court.

McFarland hopes the judge will grant a trial for the case, but he said the next step depends on what Lanier Golf Club does.

“The ball’s more or less in their court,” he said.

Manton, an owner of the golf club, said the business has a pending motion seeking attorney’s fees “for the filing of a frivolous lawsuit.”

He believes the judge will issue a ruling on that matter within the next few weeks.

In terms of the remaining plaintiffs, Manton said Lanier believes the court decisions pertaining to Peck should be applicable to the other 25 neighbors.

“Summary judgment motions will be filed within 30 days seeking the complete resolution and resulting in the denial of all the plaintiff’s claims,” he said. “The law has clearly been established that the neighborhood does not have any implied easements whatsoever.”

Forsyth County’s litigation with the course ended in January, when commissioners followed a court order to rezone the property.

The front 93.8 acres were rezoned from agricultural to a master planned district, with a conditional use permit for a continuing care retirement center.

The 78.6 acres in the rear of the site were rezoned from agricultural to Res 2, or residential with 1.5 to 2 units per acre.

The order was the result of a lawsuit the golf course owners filed against the county after the commission denied their request in 2007 to rezone the site from agricultural to a master planned district.

The only current activities on the property are some renovations, Manton said.

“The golf course has been closed because we’re doing new greens,” he said, “and we’re hopeful the new greens will be in and ready to play sometime by the middle to end of the month.”

 

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