CUMMING, Ga. — Residents in a west Forsyth neighborhood left frustrated when a meeting designed to shed light on a new residential development ended in stalemate Oct. 15.
Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper moderated the meeting between homeowners of the Lakes of Franklin Goldmine, officials with builder Paran Homes and developers American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R).
“Hopefully tonight we can come to some sort of compromise, some sort of solution,” Cooper said.
AH4R is developing the third phase of the neighborhood as for-rent properties, which is a bone of contention for nearby homeowners.
Homeowner Sean Harris presented a list of ongoing concerns that include the planned rentals, the status of several lots which are slated to begin construction and amenities.
Many of the homeowners said they were unaware of the plans for a third phase of the neighborhood, Harris said.
“The first thing that we learned was the company that was building those homes was called American Homes 4 Rent,” Harris said. “They own five lots in Phase 2 and [the lots] usually stood out as being different. The name alone certainly got everyone’s attention. Sadly, we found out not only did AMH own those lots, they were the [developer] for all of Phase 3.”
He said neighbors immediately started to dig deeper and discovered Phase 3 would be all rentals of lower quality and lower-priced homes.
Additional concerns raised by homeowners in attendance included new homes being painted in colors out of character with current homeowners’ association stipulations, deteriorating amenities, undeveloped green space and walking trails covered with overgrown plants.
Many homeowners expressed frustration with both companies, saying they feared the rentals and other factors could hurt the resale values of their homes.
Brent Landry, with AH4R, concurred that the amenities needed to have work done. He was in favor of a current push by homeowners to separate Phase 3 from the existing sections.
“I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm,” Landry said, “It’s not a decision we are going to make here.”
He added that he would be happy to sit down with representatives who currently live in the community “for a proper business meeting, and that meeting would need to be informed by a few facts.”
When asked how many of Phase 3 homes would be for rent, Landry said. “It could be all of them.”
In 2006, the property was rezoned for 111 homes. A 2017 condition change resulted in the minimum lot size at 10,000 square feet and a maximum of 95 lots.
The issues of separation of Phase 3 from the rest of the community and whether the county would limit the number of rentals were discussed by commissioners at a work session in May. County Attorney Ken Jarrard said at that meeting that all homes in Phase 3 could be rentals under current rules.
Homeowner Ron Laslie told Paran CEO Whit Marshall about electrical issues that Paran Homes’ Warranty Department promised to fix two years ago and remain unfixed.
“I told him there were electrical issues, and if something happens to my house because of them, they’re looking at a lawsuit,” Laslie said.
Marshall took Laslie’s phone number and promised the issues would be addressed, according to Laslie.
“I haven’t heard a word from him, not a word,” Laslie said in a phone interview Oct. 23. “Nothing’s happened as of today, nothing. I didn’t expect he’d do anything. Nobody [from Paran] ever does.”
A follow up meeting with Cooper, homeowners, AH4R and Paran has been in discussion but a date has not been set.