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Condemnation suit ends in settlement
County to pay $1.1M for greenway land
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Forsyth County News

A 2008 Forsyth County condemnation dispute over land purchased for the Big Creek Greenway has been resolved with a settlement.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Todd Levent opposed, to give final approval to a consent order for the settlement last week.

The agreement states the county will pay $1.01 million for about 2.3 acres along Atlanta Highway at Castleberry Road.

The issue dates to January 2008, when Forsyth filed a condemnation declaration with the William C. Rawson Family Trust for the property, whose value has since been tied up in court.

The land was used for construction of the Big Creek Greenway multi-use trail.

The county originally paid $94,100 in the condemnation. The remaining $916,000 for the settlement will be paid from impact fees, which are charged to developers.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the land itself wouldn’t be worth more than $1 million, but the consequential damages of the condemnation caused the property to be “potentially unusable as a wetland mitigation bank.”

That preservation use would allow the owners to sell wetland mitigation credits, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be marketed to others as “compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources.”

If the land is not entirely in its natural state, the property typically cannot be used as a mitigation bank.

“The value for those credits was a lot more than just the value of the fee simple ownership,” said Jarrard, adding that he was “comfortable” with the amount.

Levent, the lone commissioner opposed Tuesday, said after the vote that he felt the deal was not a “reasonable settlement.”

“They claim it’s worth way more than what the settlement is,” he said. “Yet they’ve done nothing to start filing to see if they can even get any credits or how many credits they’ve lost to put a value on anything. I’m not seeing it.”