CUMMING — A proposed couples’ only hotel on Antioch Road northeast of Cumming has angered both supporters and opponents this spring.
The proposal from Belamere Suites was on the agenda for a recent meeting of the Forsyth County commission, but was postponed until August.
Antioch runs between Hwy. 9 and Pilgrim Mill Road. The hotel, which operates a location in Perrysville, Ohio, is planned as an adults-only getaway. However, one of the larger issues with the project is its location next to Antioch Baptist Church.
“When the property was sold, we learned that there was going to be a hotel that was being proposed to be built next to the church,” said the Rev. Travis Bridgeman, the church’s pastor. “The property actually adjoins the side of our church and comes around behind the church as well, so it’s actually over half the area of our church.”
“Then we learned the type of the hotel, which we didn’t know existed.”
According to Bridgeman, the hotel would sit between the church, nonprofit The Place of Forsyth County and Ga. 400. He and a number of residents, some of whom have started an online petition against the hotel, feel it would bring undesirable elements to the area.
“We’re just concerned that a hotel, especially an adults-only facility being built directly across from our church is not good for our community,” Bridgeman said. “Really to be located next to a church is somewhat disrespectful, I think, knowing what the church stands for.
“We’re just concerned about the traffic in and out and the potential [it might] be a meeting place for other than honest, legal activity, you’d say, and possibly illegal activity and possibly crime and so forth.”
Ethan Underwood, the attorney working with Belamere owner John Kranjec, said he has heard several people misrepresent the hotel. Its Ohio location has been in business for more than a decade without issue, even winning awards from family magazines.
“We want to clear up some information,” Underwood said during the recent commission meeting. “Four weeks ago, I sat in this first pew and listened to someone accuse [Kranjec] of facilitating illegal activity at his business that’s been in operation for 11 years. He operates Belamere Suites in Perrysburg, Ohio.”
Underwood said the location featured many amenities, including a personal chef and concierge service, but that many have just assumed the worse.
“He’s been accused of preposterous allegations” he said. “Let’s just be blunt — someone sat here and accused him of facilitating prostitution and drug use. Can you imagine your businesses being accused of facilitating prostitution and drug use?
“It’s ludicrous and defamatory and it’s wrong.”