A U.S. Housing and Development loan pre-application pending at the state Department of Community Affairs will return to Forsyth County as planned, following a decision Thursday.
County Commission Chairman Brian Tam cast his tiebreaking vote to let the HUD Section 108 loan application continue through the state so the county can review the terms that would come along with approval of the $5 million loan.
"It would be premature to stop this process because I feel we will be asked to participate in this process again," Tam said.
"I’m wanting to get the information necessary to help us all make the right decision."
At a May 19 meeting, the four commissioners present split 2-2 to rescind the application, moving the final vote to the next meeting at which all five were present.
Kennesaw-based developer Almquist Hansen hopes to secure the loan to in part fund the $30 million construction of Towne Club Windermere, a high-end senior rental community, on an 18-acre site at Windermere Parkway and Trammel Road.
The project qualifies for a HUD loan because the jobs it would create would benefit low- to middle-income workers.
The local government, in this case Forsyth County, is needed to submit the Section 108 application.
If the loan is approved, the county would then act as a conduit between the developer and state and federal governments.
The department will get back to the county with further information about the specifics of the loan.
At that time, the county can decide whether to commit to the process, which if so would include another public hearing.
Tam’s voted to let the pre-application continue drew a few sighs from meeting attendees, a few of whom had earlier urged commissioners not to continue the process.
Resident Sam Latone said he worried about the possibility that a HUD loan could ultimately fall to the burden of taxpayers if the project failed.
He also raised questions about the developer and the proposed property’s delinquent taxes.
Edward McDonough also asked commissioners not to proceed with the application, which he read during his comments.
Neither the document nor the commissioners gave him the answers to the many questions he had about the program.
"This isn’t right, right now," he said. "Even though it might have good merits, it should wait."
Ethan Underwood, attorney for the developers, said the commission can make the final decision once the application returns with specifics.
"Our job is to negotiate so there’s no liability to Forsyth County," said Underwood, adding that the local government would only be the intermediary and not directly involved with the loan if approved.
Property owner Brent Reeves said the county won’t hear another word about the application if the terms returned would not provide for a quality development with indemnity to the county.
Reeves also said it’s not unusual for projects of this scope to receive some sort of government assistance, though the Section 108 program requiring county approval is less known.
He did not address the subject of the more than $52,000 in taxes owed on the 18-acre parcel.