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Greenleaf saga in north Forsyth coming to close with demolition

NORTH FORSYTH — The demolition of a long-ago abandoned and unfinished subdivision in north Forsyth could be completed soon, though some headaches will remain for county officials.

Construction stopped in 2006 on homes within the Greenleaf subdivision off Anderson Lake Road. Last year, the county commission voted to demolish what remained of the neighborhood, which was never lived in and was at the center of a federal mortgage fraud case.

“It’s been complete demolition of 18 houses, including the foundation and the walls,” said Lana Cavassa of New Beach Construction Partners Inc., which his handling the project for the county.

“All the construction debris has been hauled off and removed into properly contained landfills. We’ll probably be out of there this week.”

According to Cavassa, the structures were in extreme disrepair.

“The houses had been severely vandalized, because they had been sitting there vacant so long,” she said. “All the copper, all the salvageable materials had been removed from the houses, and there was a lot of broken glass and things like that.”

Commissioners voted 5-0 in October to approve the demolition for $187,200.

Structures on the 40-acre property were built without the proper infrastructure to make them inhabitable. They were deemed so dangerous that local fire officials said they couldn’t be used for fire training.

In addition, two men tied to the development were sent to federal prison for a mortgage fraud scheme and ordered to pay millions in restitution.

“Basically the entire subdivision was shut down and raided as some sort of a crime scene, based upon what appeared to be some fraudulent  activity with respect to selling some of those parcels sight unseen to buyers out of state,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

Jarrard added that some of those buyers attempted to sue the county in civil court, though those claims were dismissed.

He also said that liens likely would be imposed on the lots.

“As soon as we get the final price of the work, then we will distill that into any sort of a lien to the extent that we had to go out there and use county funds [for] the demolition,” he said.

According to Jarrard, once the liens are assessed, officials will then weigh the next step for the property.

“Candidly at that point, from the standpoint that we have abated the nuisance out there, I will be returning to the board of commissioners to see what they want to do on the property, if anything,” he said.