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Suits target court-ordered rezoning
Neighbors renew fight to halt development of site
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Forsyth County News

Property owners near Lanier Golf Course are pressing on in their fight to stop residential development of the site.

Two suits filed recently in Forsyth County Superior Court have asked to have reversed the county commission’s court-ordered rezoning of the 172-acre site.

One of the suits was filed by Save Lanier Golf Club, an association made up of residents who live adjacent to the course, and resident Pat Dorn.

The other was filed by Pedro Pedro Tecnologias. The corporation is run by William Pulford out of his home on Fairway Lane.

Both suits were filed last month against the county and Lanier Golf Club.

They also contend the commission abused its zoning power in July when it voted to rezone the front 93.8 acres of the site off Buford Dam Road from agricultural to a master planned district, with a conditional use permit for a continuing care retirement center.

The rear 78.6 acres were rezoned from agricultural to Res 2, or residential with 1.5 to 2 units per acre.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit Judge Roger E. Bradley had ordered the commission to grant a zoning that was constitutional after course owners George Bagley, Jr. and Jack Manton sued the county for denying a rezoning request in 2007.

Bradley ruled the site’s agricultural zoning was unconstitutional.

He twice extended the deadline for rezoning the site as officials and residents sought to broker a compromise. The talks eventually stalled.

Manton and Bagley had intended in 2007 to sell the property for residential development, contingent on the course’s rezoning.

Pulford’s suit lists developer Wellstone as a defendant. The company was set to buy the course and develop the land and had joined Manton and Bagley in the suit against the county. In 2009, however, it dropped out after moving its headquarters from Cumming to Texas.

Ken Jarrard, county attorney, said the county has received the lawsuits and is preparing an answer.

Manton said they’ll respond to the suits near the end of the week.

"The claim is really against the county and there’s nothing that we can do as the golf course to overturn a zoning the county has made," Manton said. "They’re the proper defendant for what these people are asking.

"We are not and we’re hoping to get out of the case as soon as possible."

Pulford claims that if the zoning is not changed and the site is developed, it will have a negative impact on his and neighboring properties.

The suit also contends that course’s designations constitute either an illegal or reverse spot zoning "by leaving a small 1.6-acre pocket of R-1 in the middle of a high density planned development containing multi-story retirement, commercial and higher density residential."

Pulford has asked for a jury trial.

The suit filed by Save Lanier claims the commission and the course owners failed to comply with the Forsyth County Unified Development Code when the course was rezoned. It also contends the county failed to follow zoning procedures law.