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Land Bank Authority discusses next steps for abandoned subdivision
Recent legal developments have cleared the way for Forsyth County to raze the abandoned Greenleaf subdivision, shown here in summer 2013. Work stopped on the neighborhood in 2006. - photo by FCN file photo

A local group is moving ahead with new plans to fix issues with an abandoned subdivision in north Forsyth County.

At a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13, members of the Forsyth County Land Bank Authority met to discuss plans for land off Anderson Lake Road that was previously planned for the Greenleaf subdivision, which had construction stopped in 2006 and saw two men tied to the 40-acre development sentenced to federal prison for a mortgage fraud scheme and ordered to pay millions in restitution.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the group’s attorney, Joey Homans, said that since the group last met in the fall, 39 of the proposed lots in the subdivision had been purchased by the authority during tax sales: 34 in November and five in January.

“We’ve achieved step one of, really, what the land bank was created to do, which was to get those parcels that are in that black hole, so to speak, back at least in some control,” said Forsyth County Manager Kevin Tanner, a member of the authority.

Members said the next steps will be to talk with Forsyth County about potentially deeding lots they own to the authority and contacting owners of other lots.

Homans said having control of more of the lots would help change the properties’ covenants, which will expire in 2024 and need the approval of 90% of the property owners to change.

During the meeting, Tanner said he did not believe any other parcels were being considered for tax sales. 

Forsyth County leaders have previously described structures in the 40-acre property as “shells” of houses and were in poor condition, had been vandalized and stripped and were built without proper infrastructure, which meant they could not be completed.

Of the 60 proposed lots, 18 were in disrepair when construction ended.

In 2015, county commissioners authorized Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard’s office to move forward with a nuisance abatement process to begin the process of removing the properties, which was completed in 2016. Tax liens were placed on the property for the demolition.

After the structures were torn down, tax and title issues continued on the land.

The authority, which held its first meeting last year, was approved as a way to rejuvenate land that is delinquent in taxes, in disrepair, abandoned or foreclosed on.

Members of the group include Tanner, Cumming City Councilmen Joey Cochran and Christopher Light, local attorney Phill Bettis and Forsyth County resident Lamar Wakefield, who is principal at Nelson Worldwide.

The authority cannot use eminent domain to obtain property, and members said land they are in control of would come from tax sales or be designated by the city or county governments.

For properties that are taken over by the authority then later sold, the group may receive up to 75% of county property taxes for five years, which will be used to fund other projects.