Forsyth County Commissioners approved a pair of big land purchases this week.
At a regular meeting on Thursday, commissioners approved in separate motions the purchase of land and property currently used by the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and seven acres on Browns Bridge Road from private property owners for a new fire station.
The approval for the chamber land was for $800,000 for 3.1 acres at 212 Kelly Mill Road.
“This would be for land and all improvements on the land,” said Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt.
The county can close on the land 30 days after a 90-day due diligence period, and chamber officials will have an option to lease the property for another six months.
“There is a provision that during the due diligence period of 90 days that we can negotiate, if both sides are willing, a leaseback option that would allow the chamber to lease back the property for some period of time,” Merritt said. “However, if we fail to negotiate that in the 90-day due diligence, the condition then becomes null and void.”
James McCoy, president and CEO of the chamber, said following the meeting the chamber board decided last year to sell the property and the county’s offer made the most sense.
“We thought it was important that it remained an asset to the public and that it be for whatever future use the county may have,” he said.
McCoy said the chamber has been in the building since 2000.
“It was the absolute right move at the right time,” he said. “It really helped the organization move forward and really allowed us to develop the team and infrastructure and financial strength that we enjoy today.”
The chamber staff and their scope of work have grown significantly since the chamber first moved to the property, McCoy said, and the chamber will reach out to members to see what they want in a new facility.
“Really we’re more interested at this point in learning what the members expect from us in terms of available meeting space, in terms of how much of a destination they would like to see it be,” McCoy said.
Forsyth County Manager Eric Johnson said in an email on Friday the county does not yet have a planned use for the property but noted the county is currently renting property near the site for the procurement and water and sewer departments.
Commissioners voted 4-0, with Commission Chairman Todd Levent recused since he is a member of the chamber board, to approve.
Commissioners also approved the purchase of about seven acres at 8465 Browns Bridge Road for $285,000.
Fire Chief Danny Bowman said the new station would be a replacement for Fire Station 9, located at 7385 Browns Bridge Road, “which is an old volunteer fire station from about 30 years ago.
When asked by District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills if it was the oldest station in the county, Bowman said it was “close.”
Though not discussed at Thursday’s meeting, fire department officials have previously laid out plans for new Fire Station 11 at Pittman Road and new Fire Station 13 at Matt Highway/Old Federal Road, a new fire training facility and an expansion of Fire Station 15 on Hwy. 20.
The county will have a 120-day due diligence period to check the property, with closing happening 30 days later.
Commissioners unanimously approved the request.