No Retreat

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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The Atlanta metro area is no stranger to development. That concept has never been stronger here in Peachtree Corners. As most folks here in Peachtree Corners know, there has been much reported on the future of a retreat known as Simpsonwood. This prime tract of beautifully wooded land is 227 acres and valued at $100 million. Simpsonwood has been owned and operated by The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. The organization can no longer afford to stay, so it’s looking to sell to an interested party.

The county court has just ruled that homeowners do not have standing to block the sale of Simpsonwood. Now, the judge simply followed the law which, in this case, was quite upsetting to him. The basic fact is that the property is indeed private. Thus, the owners have the right to do what they wish to do with the property.

Judging from how from how these matters have been dealt with in the past, many in my neighborhood feel we could end up with (most likely) more homes and with that, more traffic. If not homes, then perhaps a developer could build a privatized retreat – maybe on the level of a Ritz-Carlton Retreat. That could be far-fetched, but in this day and age, nothing would surprise most of us. The point is that there are many possibilities as to what could happen to this property.

Personally me and scores of others would like to see the county purchase the property and preserve this precious land as a park. Many of us have years of memories of walking, running or biking into Simpsonwood. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a massive owl in a pine tree. Another time I spotted a peacock. Scores of others have seen great blue herons and red shoulder hawks. Then of course the massive family of deer roaming the property’s massive meadow is truly a wonder. Yes, these families multiply, wander quite a bit around the neighborhood and sometimes meet an unlikely fate with an automobile. Still, this property is unbelievably pristine.

Simpsonwood is an oasis in a sea of urban/suburban madness whereby one could go to get away from it all, but not have to travel so far to accomplish that desire. This lush forested area is nestled against the quiet of the Chattahoochee River where its waters usher down south to provide this precious resource to communities in the southern part of the state and into Florida.

Simpsonwood is a gift from Ms. Ludie Simpson, a teacher who believed in the land’s preservation. Today, her vision may be destroyed if this land is sold and developed.

More preservation ought to occur throughout Gwinnett County and the entire metro region, not development. In another part of the county, a tract of land known as The Range was given the green light to develop last year. This gorgeous open land is being developed to allow hundreds of homes to crowd this space which will no doubt be forever altered against the rules of nature. This already-traffic-choked corridor off of Cruse Road will become even an worse nightmare to negotiate via automobile.

Indeed there is a saying in the film The Godfather where one character says, “It’s business.” Certainly it’s business – especially when one looks at the dollar value of The Range and Simpsonwood. Further, there are folks who obtained the proper legal authority to develop land like they did with The Range. The reality in my humble opinion is that it’s a travesty that the citizens near The Range lost their battle with that property. With Simpsonwood, it could be another travesty to see this type of development. Indeed the land is worth a nice chunk of change, but should our habitat pay such a price for such unneeded development? As the judge said, the ultimate decision will not happen quickly. There is still time to save this precious land. Let’s hope there will be good decisions made regarding Simpsonwood that will serve in the best interests of business and the community.

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