Tensions ran high on Tuesday night between homeowners and developers of a west Forsyth neighborhood.
On Tuesday, a meeting was held at Vickery Middle School between homeowners in the Lakes of Franklin Goldmine subdivision and officials with homebuilder Paran Homes and developer American Homes 4 Rent, which is developing the third phase of the neighborhood as for-rent properties. Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper served as moderator of the meeting.
Current homeowners raised issues that have been ongoing in the neighborhood, such as issues with amenities, the planned rentals, the status of some yet-to-be-built lots and other lingering issues.
Homeowner Sean Harris, who presented the homeowners’ side, said many in the neighborhood were unaware there were plans for a third phase of the neighborhood.
“The first thing that we learned was the company that was building those homes was called American Homes 4 Rent. They own five lots in Phase 2, and usually stood out as being different,” Harris said. “The name alone certainly got everyone’s attention. Sadly, we found out not only did AMH own those lots, they also were the [developer] for all of Phase 3. We immediately started to dig deeper and fear the worst: Phase 3 would be all rentals of lower quality and lower-priced homes.”
Other concerns raised by Harris and other homeowners included new homes not being painted the same colors as existing homes in the neighborhood, deteriorating amenities, undeveloped green space, walking trails covered with plants and with the neighborhood’s homeowner’s association, which is majorly controlled by American Homes 4 Rent until the neighborhood is built out.
Many homeowners expressed frustrations with both companies and said they feared the rentals and other factors could hurt the resale values of the homes.
Brent Landry, with American Homes 4 Rent, said he agreed amenities, such as the walking trail, needed to have work done and said he was in favor of a current push by homeowners to separate Phase 3 from the existing sections but said that would be a company decision.
“I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm. It is not a decision we are going to make here,” Landry said. “I would be happy to sit down with representatives that currently live with the community … for a proper business meeting, and that meeting would need to be informed by a few facts.”
When asked how many of the Phase 3 homes would be for rent, Landry said it “could be all of them.”
The property was rezoned originally in 2006 for 111 homes. A 2017 condition change meant that the minimum lot size for developments would be 10,000 square feet with an average of 14,000 square feet and a maximum of 95 lots.
The issue was discussed by commissioners during a work session in May to see if there was any authority to add the division between Phase 3 and the other phases and whether the county could limit such rentals.
At that meeting, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said all homes in Phase 3 could be rentals under current rules.