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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County may turn a church in south Forsyth into a senior center.

The price tag for the 11-acre Lakeland Southern Baptist Church site on Sharon Road is $2.5 million. The county commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 5 to gather community input on the possible purchase.

Funds would come from last year's extension of the 1-cent sales tax, said Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas. The county approved using sales tax money for capital improvements, including a new senior center.

After the public hearing, the board could sign a contract for the property and building, which would allow a 120-day inspection period.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the time frame would allow the county to "send the troops over and fully scrutinize the property," including surveys of the land and inspection of the church.

If commissioners found any reason to abandon the agreement, the county would be out $15,000 in earnest money.

The property falls in the district of Commissioner Brian Tam, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said the location of the property would be prime for a senior center.

"We have a senior center in the north end  [Lanier Drive] and one in town  [Dahlonega Highway], but we don't have one in south Forsyth," Bell said.

Bell said the church is "a great facility ... it's in great shape. It's been well-maintained from what I understand."

According to Jarrard, the congregation is interested in leasing the church from the county if there's a deal.

"That may be something fairly attractive to the board, to the extent that we don't have the money or resources to immediately make it a usable facility," Jarrard said. "We might want to generate some income off the property and allow them to stay there while they look for a permanent home."

Officials with the church could not be reached for comment.

Funds from any lease could go toward renovations, which according to Bell, would be needed to turn the building into a senior center.

As a condition of the contract, the church requested certain fixtures of the site, such as chalkboards, projector screens and televisions, remain its property.