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Clemmons, Forsyth County can’t agree on terms for Idols Road property

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

Nearly a year ago — when the Clemmons Village Council voted “no” to supporting Forsyth County’s lingering efforts to proceed with Tanglewood Business Park — councilman Mike Combest suggested that Clemmons should explore the possibility of acquiring the 170 acres being considered for the park.

Ultimately, that led to the council officially establishing the village’s interest in acquiring the land for the proposed business park by voting unanimously to give the authorization to execute agency agreements with Meridian Realty in its Aug. 26, 2019, meeting. That was followed by several discussions in closed session.

And in Monday night’s meeting in town hall, the council gave an update on the Idols Road project, including providing a letter of intent to the county to purchase the property, which was responded to by a counter offer from the county with additional details, and then a decision by the council that it wouldn’t provide a revised letter of intent in response, according to councilwoman Michelle Barson. No specific terms were provided.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin included the item on Monday night’s agenda and referred to council members Barson and Mike Rogers, who are the designated delegates to work with the county commissioners on the project. Rogers, who was elected to the council in November, replaced Combest, who didn’t seek re-election last fall, in that capacity to work with Barson.

Buffkin said that Barson and Rogers met with Combest last Friday to discuss the topic again, and Barson provided where things now stand on the project by reading a statement in Monday night’s meeting.

The village engaged Meridian, a full-service commercial real estate company that specializes in land use, last August by signing a buyer’s agency agreement.

“They would have completed a full market analysis to determine the highest and best use for the land, as well as ensure that however it develops it would complement and provide value to Clemmons,” Barson said. “On our behalf, Meridian provided a letter of intent to the county. In response, we received a document outlining the county’s investments in that land, as well as a counter offer. After a lengthy discussion and consideration on Feb. 10th, the council’s consensus was that we will not be providing a revised letter of intent in response.

“That said, the village remains open to other possibilities regarding this piece of property and we will continue to be open to considering a revised offer from the county. Most importantly, we still desire to work with the county on the future of that property and will continue making efforts in that direction.”

The county’s plans for a business park sputtered after more than two years of many meetings and discussions with the village — where Beaufurn, a commercial furniture company, emerged as the lone tenant last spring and the timeline for the furniture company couldn’t be met.

The village has long expressed concerns over traffic, quality of life, declining home values in that area and whether the project even made good financial sense, and balked earlier in 2019 when the county asked Clemmons to contribute $1.2 million to the effort.

That led to the village to begin looking into exploring ways to acquire the land, bring it into the Clemmons limits and having control on how it is developed.

At the end of the discussion of the first meeting of March a year ago, when the village voted not to participate in what the county called Tanglewood Business Park, Combest added the new twist of the village looking into the possibility of acquiring the Idols Road property.

“I’d offer that we ought to consider, I think the time might be right, to direct our staff to approach the county staff to see if there’s a way we can devise to acquire that land and thereby bring it in the village limits and ensure that it’s developed to Clemmons standards,” Combest said at that meeting, and the council agreed by consensus to ask the staff to do an inquiry.

In addition to projects such as the Idols Road property and other capital projects, the village will hold its annual retreat today (Thursday) to plan and discuss a number of topics for the upcoming year and beyond.

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:

• Heard from Buffkin regarding a proposal from Jewell Engineering to design a stormwater capital project for Greenbrook Drive and Mendelsshon Drive, saying that he and Public Works Director Mike Gunnell felt like it was “a little more of an in-depth project that we’re really not comfortable taking on in-house at this time.”

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that Family Fishing Fun will be Saturday, March 21, at the Village Point Greenway where the kids can fish in the lake and that the annual Clemmons Medicine Drop will be Monday, March 23, at the James Street Fire Station. Both events are in coordination with Forsyth Creek Week. Ford also thanked all those who participated in the Clemmons Lip Sync Battle last Friday night and offered a special thank you to councilman Chris Wrights for collecting “the most donations we’ve ever received at an event” and getting those to the foster family.

• Heard from Mayor John Wait, who read a resolution proclaiming March 21-29 as Forsyth Creek Week.