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Bell suspicious of proposal
Changes would affect land near golf course
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Forsyth County News
At least one Forsyth County commissioner seemed surprised by a colleague’s suggested changes to the future land-use map for property next to Lanier Golf Course.

Patrick Bell said he was “suspicious” when Jim Boff floated the idea Tuesday.

“That came out of the blue,” Bell said. “There’s been no talk on the board’s part about the future land-use map recently ... it makes me suspicious ... to just arbitrarily decide we need to change something near there.”

Nevertheless, the commission voted 5-0 to move forward with a public hearing next month to decide the fate of three parcels on Buford Dam Road. Affected property owners will be notified.

The properties, all in Boff’s district, are currently classified as activity center on the map, which represents a scenario for future land use, according to the county’s comprehensive plan.

Boff wants them changed to residential, saying the activity center designation does not represent them well.

“The larger [parcel] is town homes,” Boff said. “The other two have houses or trailers on them.”

According to the county’s comprehensive plan, an activity center calls for a combination of “local and/or regional retail establishments with offices, but may also include entertainment, governmental facilities, and/or medium- and high-density residential.”

Boff denied that changing the classification was linked with a potential purchase of the 170-acre golf course next door.

Bell’s not so sure.

“It’s no secret we’re in litigation with the owner of the golf course,” he said.

Wellstone LLC, a company with a contract to buy the site, and the golf course owners filed suit against the county in September 2007 after the commission rejected rezoning the property for residential development.

In the suit, Wellstone and the course owners contend the commission denied their request to rezone the property “in order for Forsyth County to purchase the property at less than its fair market value.”

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said changing the three parcels next to the golf course would not affect litigation, which is ongoing.

“That doesn’t concern me,” Jarrard said. “The golf course property is clearly delineated and ... [those properties] are not part of the golf course.”
Bell said he disagrees with the county buying a golf course, but acknowledged that steps have been taken in that direction, including recent appraisals of the property.

If the county did move forward with such a purchase, there’s still money left from the $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond, about $36 million of which was earmarked for acquiring green space.

Bell said there’s $10 million “give or take” that could be used for buying land. The commission has already bought five properties, totaling some 600 acres, with about $33 million in green space money.

While it appears most of the $36 million is gone, some of the properties include opportunities which could reimburse money.

Bell said money taken in through active recreation on sports fields will go back into the fund, as will revenue from property sold to other organizations, such as the library system.

According to Bell, the purchase of a sixth piece of green space has “been talked about.”

“If I were to say that the District 5 commissioner [Boff] would not like to bring that forward, I’d be lying,” Bell said.

Boff confirmed that there had been communication between owners of the golf course and the county.

E-mail Frank Reddy at