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County begins process to remove burned Sharon schoolhouse
FCN Forsyth County Administration Building

Forsyth County Commissioners took action to start the process for removing a former schoolhouse that was destroyed in a 2018 fire and several other nuisance structures in the county. 

Commissioners decided at a work session on Tuesday, where they voted unanimously to begin the legal process to remove the building at 3594 Old Atlanta Road through the county’s structure nuisance code. 

“This commonly was known as the old schoolhouse,” said Steve Zaring, the county’s director of code enforcement. “It was a structure fire Feb. 2, 2018, turned out to be an arson. We had some… differences with the property owner and the property custodian about getting the cleanup. They did remove their trash and debris from outside the structure, but there has been absolutely no movement, as you can see.” 

A month after the fire, Nicholas Samuel Blaine, then 22, from Alpharetta and Briana Danielle Shanyfelt, then 20, of Cumming were arrested and charged with second-degree arson.  

At the time Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers, a spokesman for the department, said Blaine and Shanyfelt were allegedly “party to trespassing” at the old Sharon schoolhouse and, “set fire to the building, in an effort to create a warming fire.” 

He said that the two allegedly abandoned the fire after it grew out of control.   

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the action from commissioners “does involve an actual piece of litigation be filed to seek remediation of this site.” 

Jarrard said after the meeting, the next step would be for his office to prepare the appropriate court filings to start the legal process.  

In November 2016, the BOC adopted a nuisance abatement ordinance after years of not having any way to deal with unsafe or abandoned structures. 

The need for such an ordinance arose initially from discussions about what to do with the Greenleaf subdivision, an abandoned neighborhood that was never completed once construction stopped in 2006. Unfinished houses in the neighborhood were demolished in 2016 

Along with the former schoolhouse, commissioners took similar action on properties at 5140 Virginia Avenue, 6025 Crystal Cove Trail, 8116 Knight Road and 9135 Brookshire Road.