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County settles landscaping tab
Funds to help spruce up Windermere Parkway
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Forsyth County News

Settling an old debt set Forsyth County back $50,000 this week.

County commissioners agreed to pay the sum to the Three Chimneys Farm Property Owners' Association to further landscape Windermere Parkway.

The county has already spent about $207,250 on landscaping and lighting along the corridor. Tuesday's 3-2 decision will fulfill the county's obligation, which originally called for $300,000 in work.

Commissioner Brian Tam said the county agreed to the deal more than two years because property owners "made a real good case for a lack of landscaping on that parkway."

"They made a case that when we opened that road that putting in that landscaping would lessen the impact on adjacent property owners to that parkway," Tam said.

According to County Attorney Ken Jarrard, the agreement "provided for $300,000 in county funds" for a landscaping plan and work along Windermere. The plan was put together, awarded to TriScapes in June  2007 and installed, but it "cost less."

Since then, the homeowners have sought additional landscaping help in the amount left over.

Representatives of Three Chimneys Farm Property Owners' Association could not be reached for comment. Tam and Jarrard recently met with the group to negotiate a compromise less than the $92,750 difference.

The board then voted Tuesday to give the property owners $50,000, which would release the county from any further obligations. Commissioners Jim Boff and Charles Laughinghouse opposed the measure.

Laughinghouse said the original agreement, signed in September 2006, was flawed.

"It should have said up to [$300,000], rather than $300,000," he said.

Jarrard said when the agreement was drafted "the concern was exceeding $300,000."

"I don't recall anyone contemplating they would come back with a plan that would be less," Jarrard said. "We wanted to make sure that was a cap. That was the concern of the board at that time."

Tam said the board "fully intended to give them $300,000 to deal with their landscape."

"I think we need to just give them some of the balance and be done with it," he said.

The $50,000 comes out of the county's contingency fund.

Talks with Three Chimneys Farms, Jarrard said, have been "amicable thus far, but they feel very strongly that there is or should be money on the table for them to do some additional upgrades or supplements to their plan."

He said the original contract anticipated that "a plan would be assembled, a plan would be approved by Three Chimneys and the plan would be bid out and after it was implemented, they would assume maintenance over the finished landscape."

Jarrard said all items were triggered in the agreement.

"We could argue very vociferously that we have done everything that is contemplated," Jarrard said. "I'm not in a position to discount, however, their concern that it says $300,000 [in the agreement]."

Tam said commissioners agreed with the property owners in 2006, "so we just need to keep our end of the agreement."