By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Bond vote on course not likely
Board cites taxes, timing
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
Other business

Also Tuesday, the Forsyth County commission:

  • Agreed to a change in the Bethelview Road contract with the state Department of Transportation, which should allow completion of the first phase of the widening project.
  • Approved three bids for energy-saving measures in county buildings. They will be paid for through federal stimulus money.
  • Accepted a bid for construction of Fire Station 7 in Silver City at a cost of about $1.3 million, to be funded primarily through impact fees, or charges to developers.
  • Discussed changes to the county alcohol ordinance to permit farm winery tasting rooms. After the first public hearing was held June 3, commissioners considered changing the fee, which was lowered from $2,500 to $1,500 Tuesday. The final hearing will be July 1.
  • Accepted two bids for paving work this summer on Dr. Bramblett Road and Buford Dam Road, both by Blount Construction, to be paid for through 1-cent sales tax money.

Note: All votes were 4-0, with Commissioner Brian Tam absent, unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie
Forsyth County commissioners decided Tuesday not to put the purchase of Lanier Golf Course before voters in a bond referendum.

The question would have asked residents whether they would support the county buying the 172-acre course for public use under operation by a private company.

The commission voted 3-1, with Brian Tam absent, against the plan.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, the lone vote for the measure, had proposed the referendum for what he said was “a very contentious issue [the board] has been stuck on for months.”

Putting it out to vote would allow residents to direct the county, Bell said.

If approved as a bond, taxes would likely rise to pay for it. Bonds are typically covered through 1-cent sales taxes, although they can be paid for through property taxes.

“I don’t mind voting on whether to do it or not, I just can’t imagine asking taxpayers to raise their taxes to buy a golf course,” Commissioner Jim Harrell said.

He added that under these circumstances, he was sure voters “would say no.”

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse voted against the bond referendum because of the timing.

“If the economy turns around and things are going great, then people might be willing to consider the purchase,” he said.

After the meeting, Laughinghouse said he didn’t think people would want to raise their taxes right now to buy the course.

About two years ago, he had suggested a referendum to ask voters if they wanted to buy the property as green space, something he said has been a less popular option than purchasing the land as a golf course.

“If you put out a referendum to buy it as green space, I would support putting that on the ballot right away,” he said. “I’m still very undecided as to whether to buy a golf course.”

Commissioner Jim Boff, whose District 5 includes the course, stayed largely silent during the discussion.

Boff and Harrell have proposed that the county buy the course for $12 million from owners Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr.

The county would lease it for 99 years to a company that would maintain and operate it as a golf course.

So far, Affiniti Golf Partners and Sequoia Golf and Canongate Golf Clubs have expressed public interest in the plan.

Affiniti has offered to pay $3 million toward the total and Sequoia officials have said they’ll give $3.5 million.

Opponents have taken exception to the deal’s price tag, citing tax filings indicating the site may be worth far less as a golf course.

During Tuesday discussion, commissioners debated whether the county has the money to buy the course.

Bell said the commission would have to pull from other projects. Harrell countered that the money is there and the board doesn’t need a bond that would raise taxes to pay for the deal.

Lanier Golf Course is also at the center of a lawsuit, which could be heard later this month, between the owners and the county.

Manton and Bagley sought legal action in 2007 after the commission denied their request to rezone the course from agricultural to a master planned district.

They planned to sell the site, contingent upon the rezoning, to a developer who wanted to build a 772-unit residential development with a 300-unit continuing care retirement community.