By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
First green space site draws split vote
County may buy 43-acre Buice property
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

Nearly 10 months after voters approved a $100 million bond for parks and green space, taxpayers could start seeing some land for their money.

Following heated discussions Thursday night, commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a purchase contract for about 43 acres off Nichols Road in southwestern Forsyth County.

Commissioners Charles Laughinghouse and Jim Harrell opposed the measure.

The county has 60 days to send a surveyor to the site, referred to as the Buice property, and potentially hold public hearings during that time.

Discussion of a second potential green space site, the Harrison property in south Forsyth, was postponed for the second time in two weeks.

For the Buice property, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the price is $120,000 per acre, or about $5.1 million. The county can get out of the contract during the 60-day period, but would lose $10,000 in earnest money.

Commissioner David Richard asked Jarrard if it would be possible to have due diligence before the end of the year to buy the property. Jarrard said it's possible, but could cost more money.

Laughinghouse, who chairs the commission, cautioned against what he called a "rush to judgment to purchase property immediately rather than following the process that you [Commissioner Brian Tam] were so insistent to set up."

Tam then accused Laughinghouse of using excessive postponements in the process of choosing a consultant for the purchase of green space.

"A nationally recognized organization dropped out of the process because you, sir, postponed that process from March of this year until August of this year," he said.

Laughinghouse told Tam to "go back and read the minutes of the work sessions and determine exactly what went on" before making such statements.

Harrell told the board he had a problem with "a lack of process here."

"I urge the board to take time to let the people have their input," he said. "It's their money."

Commissioner David Richard countered that the people will "have their input on each and every one of these things."

"Every time you say they're not going to, you're either ignoring reality or lying to the people," he said.

Disagreement among the commissioners grew so heated toward the end of the discussion that Laughinghouse banged his gavel to end the bickering.

"Don't you call me down," Ledbetter said to Laughinghouse. "I am not speaking out of turn ... forget it. Do it y'alls way. Wait till January and buy Lanier Golf Course. I'm so sick of this process I could scream."

The golf club is at the center of lawsuit filed against the county after the commission denied a request in September 2007 to rezone the site for residential development.

In the suit, the developer and course owners contend the commission denied their request "in order for Forsyth County to purchase the property at less than its fair market value."