UPDATE: Fractious, five-year fight over fate of golf course

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Nydia Tisdale
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Status denied, but path opens

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 16th, 2011, 3:00 pm

Forsyth County News
Julie Arrington
July 11, 2010

For a third time, class-action status has been denied in a lawsuit filed to stop development of Lanier Golf Course.

However, the State Appellate Court maintained in its decision last week that resident Michael Peck still has a case.

Peck filed suit in 2007 against Lanier Golf Club on behalf of himself and about 120 other landowners adjacent to the course.

Peck's attorney, Bob McFarland Sr., said he thinks the case will go back before Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Frank Mills, the trial court judge who in 2009 dismissed the case.

"In all this two and a half years of fooling around we haven't ever gotten to the main issue," McFarland said. "So it appears to me that we're going to be in a position to get to the main issue, but only as to one plaintiff, Michael Peck."

McFarland explained that the "main issue" in the case is whether there is an implied easement to the golf course.

The Appellate Court's decision states that the trial court wasn't wrong to deny class action status, but its dismissal of the complaint after ruling on the motion was improper.

In his order, Mills wrote that Peck failed to prove he is a member of the group he hoped to represent and that no document restricting the 172-acre property as a golf course has been found.

Court documents show that Peck's complaint was filed to restrict use of the property to a golf course. However, its owners, Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr., had other plans.

Wellstone LLC had entered a $35 million contract in 2006 to buy the site from the men, contingent upon its rezoning, and build a large residential development that included a continuing care retirement center.

The course owners filed suit against the county in 2007 after the commission denied their request to rezone the property from agricultural to a master planned district.

Wellstone joined the suit with Manton and Bagley, but dropped out in 2009 when it moved its headquarters to Texas.

In a separate case, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Court Judge Roger E. Bradley ruled late last month that the agricultural zoning was unconstitutional.

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Commissioner is out of line

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 16th, 2011, 3:38 pm

Vice Chairman Patrick B. Bell
http://www.forsythco.com/department.asp?DeptID=99

Letter to the editor
ForsythNews.com
August 21, 2010

I am growing more concerned by the day with Patrick Bell’s conduct as commissioner. Rather than the occasional gaff, he is demonstrating a pattern of highly volatile, unprofessional behavior. He has publicly called a fellow commissioner an idiot, used profanity in public meetings, discussed sensitive personnel issues in the media, requested an outside auditing firm to tone down its independent report conclusions, questioned a sitting U.S. Congressman’s faith, and demonized his opponents.

Quite a feat when you consider that he hasn't even been in office two years. Ironic, too, that he operates a mediation firm. That’s like asking Bill Clinton to be your marriage counselor.

Recently, Commissioner Bell supported the campaign of Pete Amos, which he had every right to do. Yet he went after Amos’ opponent, Brant Meadows, with vicious personal attacks. Meadows, a planning commissioner, ran into some problems getting information from Planning Director Jeff Chance about a questionable zoning. To get his answers, Meadows submitted an open records request for Chance’s taxpayer owned e-mails — which revealed pornographic and racially charged correspondence both originated and received by Chance.

Subsequent questioning revealed suspect management practices by Chance, including his use of profanity-laced language with his subordinates in order to motivate them. If an employee for my company were discovered to do these things, he would be fired on the spot.

When presented with this evidence of misconduct — which exposed our county’s vulnerability to Title VII, sexual harassment, and hostile work environment lawsuits — how did Commissioner Bell respond? He defended Chance — in the media, no less. He must have assumed that the public would never actually read the e-mails. He then demonized Meadows for conducting a witch hunt. Now he wants to punish Meadows by removing him from his post four months early. Perhaps Bell should instead consider hiring Chance as an employee for his mediation firm.

There is great irony in Bell’s 2008 campaign strategy. His message was “I’m not David Richard.” Yet his words and actions have already far exceeded the misdeeds for which he faulted his predecessor.

Chris Goldston
Cumming

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John P. Manton ~ security deed

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 18th, 2011, 12:46 am

Consumer Deed to Secure Debt

This indenture is not a mortgage but an absolute conveyance of said property.

Lender: Bank of North GA Div Synovus Bank
Borrowers: John P. Manton and Larose P. Manton
Date: January 27, 2011
Amount: $300,000.00

Click here:
http://resolution.forsythco.com/Externa ... kPage.aspx
Book 5899, Page 306

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County could revisit zoning if trial bid fails

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 18th, 2011, 6:49 pm

ForsythNews.com
By Julie Arrington
March 27, 2011

Forsyth County commissioners are still digesting the latest legal setback in the battle over Lanier Golf Course.

Earlier this month, the commission learned its request for a new judge in the lawsuit filed against them by course owners Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr. had been denied.

And while still awaiting word on the county’s request for new trial, at least one commissioner has turned his attention to resolving the matter.

Patrick Bell was not on the commission in 2007 when it voted against the owners’ rezoning request, a decision that triggered the lawsuit they won last year.

If the motion for a new trial is denied, Bell said, then the commission likely will have to give Manton and Bagley a constitutionally appropriate zoning for the 172-acre course off Buford Dam Road.

“Which is what they should’ve gotten in the first place,” Bell said. “I’m not defending the master planned district [the owners] asked for, but what I’m defending is their desire to rezone their property and people have the right to rezone their property.”

Bell added that while he’s not saying a commercial business district should be put on the site, he does support the owners’ right to rezone.

The commission decided in January to stop its pursuit of buying the golf course, which had been publicly discussed in 2010.

Read more: http://www.forsythnews.com/section/5/article/8073/

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Forsyth looks at options in golf course suit

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 19th, 2011, 5:22 pm

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Jeffry Scott
March 29, 2011

Forsyth County commissioners at their next meet on April 7 will discuss what to do after losing the latest round in a four-year-long legal battle over zoning between the county and the owner of a 172-acre Lanier Golf Course off Buford Dam Road. The county’s request for a new judge in the case was denied, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. The dispute began in 2007 when the county commission rejected the course owners’ request to rezone the land so they could sell it to a developer to build a 772-unit residential and retirement community.

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In the dark of night

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 19th, 2011, 5:44 pm

COMMENT
Aubrey:
April 1, 2011
7:04 a.m.


At the root of the issue is the FACT that the County's Land Use Map was altered in the dark of night in late '03 or early '04. The Golf Course property was carved out and designated from Private Park Land to Activity Center without any Public Hearing.

The Board of Commissioners that schemed and violated the public trust should have been investigated by the State Attorney General. Those today that continue that cover up should additionally be put under oath and questioned about their on-going compliance. As a result of the strong suggestion of corruption an air of suspicion hangs over the BoC, the Golf Course and its Owners to this day.

http://www.forsythnews.com/section/5/article/8073/

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Rezoning ordered for golf course

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 19th, 2011, 5:59 pm

Judge gives county 45 days to comply with ruling

ForsythNews.com
By Julie Arrington
May 14, 2011

It appears Lanier Golf Course may be rezoned after all.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit Judge Roger E. Bradley issued an order Thursday, requiring the Forsyth County commission “to rezone the property to a constitutional zoning classification within 45 days of the date of this order.”

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the local government will comply with Bradley’s order, which does not specify what type of rezoning it must grant.

Jarrard said the county likely will hold a public hearing on the rezoning before it is approved.

In a statement released Friday, course owners Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr. said they were grateful for Bradley’s decision.

“Since January 2011 the attorneys for Lanier Golf Club and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and its county attorney have been in meaningful discussions awaiting Judge Bradley’s order,” the men said.

“The only request of Lanier Golf Club during the zoning process was that it be treated equally and fairly as other similar property owners in Forsyth County located adjacent to the Buford Dam/Market Place Boulevard area.”

The course owners filed suit against the county in 2007, after commissioners rejected their request to rezone the 172-acre site from agricultural to a master planned district.

Manton and Bagley had a contract with a developer to buy the site, contingent upon its rezoning.

Bradley, who was appointed to the matter after the county’s two Superior Court judges recused themselves, ruled in Manton and Bagley’s favor in June, following two days of testimony.

Phillip Friduss, the attorney who represented the county in the case, took issue with the fact that Bradley had visited the site the night before his June 29 decision.

As a result of what Friduss characterized as “independent, unsolicited and undisclosed” behavior on Bradley’s part, the attorney filed a motion for a new trial and a request to have the judge recused from the case.

The county learned in March that its request to have Bradley replaced in the lawsuit had been denied.

The case was then turned back over to Bradley for a final decision on the county’s request for a new trial.

http://www.forsythnews.com/section/2/article/8653/

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Lanier Golf Course fiasco

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 10:51 am

Future Land Use Map (FLUM) secretly changed

ForsythNews.com
Letter to the editor
May 15, 2011

There will be some that will say that the Comprehensive Plan carries little weight in zoning decisions and that most people need not be terribly concerned, but recent history proves that that is simply not the case.

The whole Lanier Golf Course fiasco started when the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map (FLUM) was changed in a private meeting between a past county commissioner and the past director of planning and development. Throughout the last update process, the golf course was designated as “private parkland, a golf course. The subarea committee recommended that it be “private parkland.” The steering committee recommended that it be “private parkland” and during the public hearing process the map showed it as “private parkland.”

After the public hearings and just days before approval by the BOC, it secretly changed. There was no input from the subarea committee, no input from the steering committee, no input from planning staff and no input from the public. The property’s color on the map simply went from light green to light blue. That doesn’t sound like much but that color changed the property’s designation from “private parkland, a golf course” to “activity center, a large high density mixed use.”

It was now the recommendation of the Comprehensive Plan that golf course, which is located in the heart of a low density single family residential community on a secondary road, be developed with high density, multifamily residential mixed with a high concentration of commercial uses. At the top of the real estate bubble, just before the crash, the property owners found a buyer willing to pay an extremely high price based on the land being developed as recommended by the changed FLUM in the Comprehensive Plan. That was a little over 5 years ago, and since then the area residents have spent countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to protect their community from an outrageous development plan which had its conception in a corrupt, secret change made in the dark of the night to the FLUM.

If the residents of Forsyth County want to see the orderly development of the county and their communities, they best pay close attention to the current plan update every step of the way. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake for the few who, as we have seen, have a great deal of influence.

Jim Quinn
Cumming


http://www.forsythnews.com/section/60/article/8645/

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Judge went too far in golf course ruling

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 11:51 am

ForsythNews.com
Letter to the editor
May 22, 2011

We have lived in Forsyth County since November 1987. We have enjoyed many rounds of golf at the Lanier Golf Course. We are no longer able to participate, but we have many friends that continue to enjoy the course. We understand that the objective of the current owners is to enjoy as much profit from the sale of the course as they possibly can.

However, generally speaking, rules that apply to the general population should not be changed or modified by an individual (such as a judicial appointee) in opposition to the desires of a majority of the citizens involved (or their elected representatives).

Judge Bradley has apparently dictated that the property must be rezoned to a “constitutional zoning classification.” I, for one, am curious as to what zoning classification Judge Bradley might consider “constitutional.” How would rezoning the subject property to a “master planned district” be any more constitutional than leaving it as “agricultural?”

Another interesting aspect of this matter is the report that Judge Bradley visited the site in contention just the night before he rendered his decision. One would think that his role in this matter is to rule on the legal aspects of the case and should not be influenced by any personal interest in the usage of the land itself.

Bob Grayson
Cumming


http://www.forsythnews.com/section/60/article/8745/

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Another troubled golf course community on Lake Oconee

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 3:58 pm

At Reynolds Plantation, a vision comes together, then falls apart

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By J. Scott Trubey and Bill Torpy
May 25, 2011

Four years ago, Mercer Reynolds III was at the peak of a wildly successful career.

The visionary developer had transformed family tracts on Lake Oconee, 80 miles east of Atlanta, into the nationally renowned Reynolds Plantation golf community. And he was looking to build a massive development on Jekyll Island as his grand legacy.

Politically connected, the silver-maned entrepreneur had served as an ambassador in Europe and campaign finance chairman for his friend George W. Bush, raising a record $270 million.

But there he was last month, sitting in a home in the development bearing his name, locked in desperate negotiations with wary residents. He was trying to cobble a last-minute deal to salvage his family’s empire. Reynolds’ main company, Linger Longer Development, was deeply in debt and a bank deadline loomed. The path to solvency — or one that would buy the company time — depended on Reynolds talking Plantation homeowners into purchasing money-losing golf courses and clubhouses.

Like many others with bold dreams, Reynolds was a casualty in the real estate collapse. While there may have been more spectacular financial stumbles, few have been more surprising, given the Reynolds family’s large holdings, solid reputation and deep political and business connections.

Over its 25 years, Reynolds Plantation had a simple business strategy: sell lots for elegant homes on and around the 90 miles of Lake Oconee shoreline; intersperse the rolling property with PGA-worthy golf courses, and then let the genteel atmosphere sell itself.

Read more: http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/at-reyn ... 53476.html

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Lanier Golf Club, Inc. public hearing June 16 at 5 p.m.

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 4:00 pm

Image

PUBLIC HEARINGS
gpn 16
PUBLIC NOTICE


The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. The Public Hearing will be held in the Commissioners Meeting Room (Number 220) on the Second Floor of the Forsyth County Administration Building. The purpose of said Public Hearing is for the renewed consideration of Zoning Application Number 3370 (Lanier Golf Club, Inc.) which involves a 172.349 acre tract of property located on Buford Dam Road, Fairway Drive, Samples Road, Canon Creek Drive, Fairway Overlook and Fairway Lane - tax parcel number 199-203. This property is known as the Lanier Golf Club. The original rezoning application requested a rezoning from A1 to MPD to construct 103 single family residential lots, 369 townhomes and 274,820 square feet of commercial retail which includes 300 single family units in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

Information regarding the original rezoning may be reviewed at:
http://estatus.forsythco.com/applicatio ... &ID=112154

The Board is presently considering rezoning the property from A1 to a split zoning with the front tract - that approximately 90 acres fronting Buford Dam road - to be zoned from A1 to MPD with a conditional use permit for a CCRC, and the rear tract - approximately 80 acre - to be rezoned from A1 to Res3.

The rezoning is undertaken in accord with a May 12, 2011 Order by Judge Roger Bradley in Lanier Golf Club, Inc. v. Forsyth County, Georgia, et.seq., Forsyth County Superior Court No. 07CV2213, holding that the current A1 zoning designation on the Lanier Golf Club is unconstitutional and directing that the property be rezoned by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to a constitutional rezoning designation with forty-five (45) days from the date of the Order.

All Forsyth County citizens and other interested parties are invited to attend.

Board of Commissioners

L956 5/27, 6/1

http://georgiapublicnotice.com/pages/fu ... d=13527612

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Lanier Golf Course residents vow to continue the fight

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 9:53 pm

Residents fight golf course rezone

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Jeffry Scott
June 2, 2011

A resolute group of homeowners in the Lanier Golf Club community say no matter what the Forsyth County Commission decides, they’re not quitting their four-year fight to keep the 172-acre property from being rezoned for residential development.

“I moved here eight or nine years ago to live on the golf course and if the commission doesn't want to fight it in court, we will,” said homeowner Jim Quinn.

Quinn is one of a group of residents who have offered to pay $5,000 of the county’s legal fees if it appeals a judge’s ruling last month giving the commission a deadline to rezone the property.

“But they turned us down,” said Quinn.

After the May 12 ruling that Forsyth County had 45 days to “rezone the property to a constitutional zoning classification,” the commission said it will bring up rezoning proposals at two public hearings before casting its deciding vote June 16.

According to the proposed rezoning, the front tract of the property, all now zoned agricultural, will be a master planned district (MPD). The back tract of the property will be zoned R-3, for single family residential. District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff, who lives in the community but not on the course, said he has always been in favor of keeping the golf course.

“The people who bought homes here paid a premium and have paid higher taxes all these years to keep it that way,” said Boff.

The course has been tied up in litigation since 2007, when the course owners sued the county after the commission rejected their request to rezone it so they could sell the land to a developer. The sale was contingent on the rezoning.

Course owners Jack Manton and George Bagley Jr. have offered a conceptual plan for the development. But after four years of legal haggling and the crash of the real estate market, county attorney Ken Jarrard said at the moment there is no “bona fide purchaser” of the property if it is rezoned.

At a commission work session District 4 Commissioner Patrick Bell said the higher density development was better for the county.

"You couldn't ask for a better use of land -- low impact, low trip generation and high taxes," said Bell.

Quinn said residents of the community have already spent about $150,000 in legal fees fighting the rezoning. One reasons the county commission wants to settle the litigation is the cost, said Boff, who estimates Forsyth has spent about $120,000 fighting the rezoning so far.

District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent said the commission rejected the offer to pay part of the legal expenses because the community group did not want to pay all the expenses if the case goes to trial, which could cost $15,000 or more. That strategy will backfire, said Quinn.

“If the county does vote to have this ridiculous zoning, the neighborhood will sue and therefore they will not be saving anything in legal expenses,” he said.

http://www.ajc.com/news/forsyth/forsyth ... 65087.html

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Board of Commissioners Meeting

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 10:57 pm

To Vote on Rezoning Lanier Golf Course
Thursday, June 23rd at 5:00 PM

Board of Commissioners' Meeting Room - 2nd Floor
Forsyth County Administration Bldg.
110 East Main St., Cumming, GA

The neighborhood has been informed that the BOC is planning to vote and rezone Lanier Golf Course to a high density development. This application ZA3370 includes an 82 acre Master Panned Development on Buford Dam Road with a 550 unit density factor. The remaining 90 acres from Fairway Drive includes an additional 200 single family units. The map on the back the is 82 acre MPD. Attached map is the 90 acre residential.

The health, welfare and our way of life for our entire community is being decided at this meeting.

This is an important Public Participation Meeting and your attendance is needed. The Commissioners need your input to understand your concerns for the future of the Lanier
Lifestyle community.

Please pass this message on to your friends and neighbors.

See you on Thursday, June 23rd at 5:00 p.m.

DON'T FORGET TO WEAR YOUR GREEN SHIRT!

Look for additional information on the Lanier Lifestyle Web Site:
http://www.lanierlifestyle.com

~ Committee to Save The Lanier Lifestyle ~

Protect, Preserve, Prevent

Click here for maps:
Proposed Lanier Golf Course Rezoning

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Future Land Character Map

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 11:35 pm

by MAD JAX » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:52 am

Click on the link below to reference the "Future Land Character Map" being construed of-late by the Forsyth County Planning and Development Dept.

http://www.forsythco.com/image/Characte ... r_size.pdf

Note the ABSENCE of any such hi-density MPD Land Use "Character" being depicted upon those Lanier Link Golf course lands within the latest proposed revision of the Comprehensive Plan...it's rather depicted as "Suburban Living", with any such higher-density "Village Living" that would include Retirement Community Housing AND Commercial Business Development (CBD) better located in closer proximity to the State Hwy. 20 Transportation corridor...which for many reasons is definitely more of where it belongs.

http://www.forsythco.com/image/Characte ... r_size.pdf

Now look again at the "Future Land Character Map" and note the blatant ABSENCE of Agricultural Zoning everywhere within this "Plan for the Future of Forsyth County"...someone really has other plans for those pretty pastures 'n woods about Us that well-are the Rural Charm and Character that some grew-up in and many others such as Myself relocated to...fast becoming WAS of Forsyth County during the rage of development over the last decade at least...and is that really YOUR "Vision" as a Citizen...or moreso that of The Chamber of Commerce, et al.???

Sure wish I could be on that "Steering Committee"...or at least someone who's NOT involved more directly with "Business" and/or "Government" interests as what we've got...IMHO how they're "Steering" is in dire need of the Citizen Perspective, and for as much as I'm coming to believe We're truly be able to influence the Future Land Character of Forsyth County...We're not in the back-seat, much-less even IN the dang Car!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Impossible" is a degree of difficulty...set by imagination for lack of motivation.

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Commissioner’s motion on golf course fails

Post by Nydia Tisdale » June 20th, 2011, 11:41 pm

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Jeffry Scott
June 14, 2011

District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff made two motions last week to include the $10 million purchase of Lanier Golf Course on the list of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects the Forsyth County Commission is considering putting on the ballot next November.

He lost both for lack of a second. On Thursday night the commission will hold a public hearing over rezoning of the property, as ordered by a judge, to resolve a four-year-long legal battle with the owners of the course. If rezoned, the course could be replaced with residential housing.

http://www.ajc.com/news/county-by-count ... 76839.html

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