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Company drops out of lawsuit over links
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Forsyth County News
One of two parties seeking legal action against Forsyth County over Lanier Golf Course has dropped out of the fight — and Georgia.

Wellstone LLC had plans to buy the course from owners Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr. and build a 772-unit residential development on the property of Buford Dam Road.

The company joined Manton and Bagley in the lawsuit filed in October 2007 after the county commission denied a request to rezone the course from residential to a master planned district.

Wellstone had agreed to buy the site contingent upon its rezoning.

On Friday, Wellstone President John Lowery said the company has been dismissed from the suit and that its headquarters has moved from Cumming to Dallas, Texas.

“We moved down here [Texas] at the first of the year, and so we gave up our interest in the contract to buy the property and withdrew from the case,” he said.

Wellstone’s principle mezzanine lender, Cornerstone Ministries Investments Inc. has gone bankrupt, though Lowery said that was not a factor in his company’s decision to abandon the golf course plans.

“Cornerstone’s bankruptcy had a role in a whole lot of other decisions, and I had about $100 million in loans from them on projects from Texas to Georgia to South Carolina,” he said.

“That’s a part of their bankruptcy process that finally has been discharged as of April 9, but had nothing to do with Lanier. We have moved on and we’re focusing on other projects around the country.”

Manton declined to comment on the lawsuit.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the case still is in the discovery stage.

Lanier has asked the court for a jury trial, but Jarrard said he thinks it would be November at the earliest before the case made it on a trial calendar.

He said the county is expected by late June to file motions to have the case dismissed without going through a trial.

Included in the complaint against the county, were arguments that the commission’s denial was unconstitutional and was “in order for Forsyth County to purchase the property at less than its fair market value.”

The county denied those allegations in its December 2007 response to the complaint.

Residents who live near the course have asked the county commission to buy it, in the hopes of preventing development of the site.

County Commissioner Patrick Bell, who was not on the board when the suit was filed, confirmed last week that the county has had the site appraised recently.

E-mail Julie Arrington at