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Commission pledges more green for space
Land deals total $17.4 million for 249 acres
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners have decided to buy two more large tracts of land for green space.

In separate votes Tuesday, the board approved purchase agreements on 186 acres in northwestern Forsyth for $8.9 million and 63 acres in south Forsyth for $8.5 million.

In the past week, the commission has signed contracts to buy $22.6 million worth of land as part of a $100 million bond for parks and green space voters approved in February.

Tuesday's decisions came on the heels of last week's purchase of 43 acres in southwestern Forsyth.

Commissioner Jim Harrell opposed signing off on either the Wallace Tatum property off Wallace Tatum Road in north Forsyth or the Harrison property along Caney Road off Hwy. 141.

He also voted against buying the Buice property, in southwestern Forsyth, on Dec. 4.

"I will continue to voice my opposition to buying green space in this manner," Harrell said Tuesday during talks about the Wallace Tatum property, which passed 4-1.

"I don't believe the vast majority of the people in this county have a clue that we're selecting and buying green space," Harrell said. "We don't have input from them. That's a problem."

Harrell went on to say that both properties sounded good, but he didn't like the process.

The sales agreements signed by commissioners Tuesday state the county will put down $5,000 in earnest money for each property, to be held in an escrow account until the final purchase.

The sale of both properties will be final Dec. 31, following surveys of each and public hearings on Dec. 30.

Of the three, the Harrison tract has garnered the most debate among the commission.

Postponed twice since Nov. 20, the item drew a split vote Tuesday. Harell and Chairman Charles Laughinghouse opposed the measure.

"I looked at the purchase price of Wallace Tatum, and it was an agreeable price," Laughinghouse said. "[The Harrison property] is almost two and a half times that price per acre.

"As much as I like the property and I would like to see the county acquire it, I cannot support this agreement."
Linda Ledbetter disagreed.

"The property's worth more than that, even in a bad market," she said.

Commissioners briefly revisited the issue of the Buice property Tuesday.

Commissioner Brian Tam asked the board to commit $10,000 for a master plan of the site. The vote failed 2-3 with Laughinghouse, Harrell and David Richard against it.

"While we approved the purchase of this, it's not final until the public hearing," Richard said. "It's like the jail. I don't like to be spending money on something that could fall by the wayside."