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Meeting on Simpsonwood Property Sale Draws Large Crowd

Nearly 250 attended to find out what, if anything,could be done to stop the North Georgia United Methodist Church Conference from selling the 227-acre property.

Grace Lewis, a long-time resident and attorney well versed in property law, made a presentation.
Grace Lewis, a long-time resident and attorney well versed in property law, made a presentation.
Last fall the community was shocked to learn of the possible sale of the 227-acre Simpsonwood property. Nearby neighbors quickly began talking and spreading the word and soon afterwards the Citizens for Simpsonwood Conservancy (CSC) was formed.

The new group held its first meeting Tuesday, Jan. 7 at Christ the King Church. Despite temperatures that hovered in the teens, nearly 250 people gathered in the Fellowship Hall to hear presentations and to find out what if anything could be done to stop the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church from selling the pristine land located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

"We were amazed at the turnout," said Amreeta Regmi, a Peachtree Corners resident who helped organize the meeting. 

Highlighting the meeting was the presentation by Grace Lewis, a long-time resident and attorney who is well versed in property law. Lewis provided an overview that included an explanation on how the judge ruled and possible remedies.

"She laid out three steps that need to be taken," said Jim Erdy, CSC's president and founding member. "No. 1, get it stopped; No. 2 prepare to challenge the ruling in court; and No. 3, take it to court."

Erdy said the CSC's next plan of action is to introduce a petition to keep the Simpsonwood property passive green space. He said he and other CSC volunteers would begin canvassing neighborhoods for signatures. Then the petition will be delivered to Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason and Gwinnett County Dist. 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard. 

"Then we plan a letter campaign to the head bishop of the United Methodist Church, Gwinnett County Commissioners and Peachtree Corners City Council," he said.

Erdy led the meeting followed by a pictorial tour of the property provided by Preston Chappell, a history of the property by Kathy Erdy and a personal perspective of Miss Ludie Simpson by Carl Garner.

Peachtree Corners resident Jason Dill talked about the possible ways the land could be developed based on the current R-200 zoning. Also making presentations was the city's Community Development Director, Diana Wheeler and Stacy Funderburke with the Conservation Fund in the Georgia office who is working on land conservation efforts including expansion of parks and green space within the metro Atlanta area. 

For more information contact the CSC via email at simpsonwoodconservancy.csc@gmail.com or visit the organization's Facebook page.

Read also:

Simpsonwood Retreat Property Up for Sale

Update on Simpsonwood Retreat & Conference Property Sale

Simpsonwood Property Sale: A Case of Broken Trust?

Fate of Simpsonwood Retreat Now in Methodists Hands
mimi January 09, 2014 at 09:13 AM
Join efforts while there’s still time Judging by the response at the meeting, many attendees wanted to know the most effective steps they could take RIGHT NOW to help preserve this Peachtree Corners natural treasure before irreversible sale decisions are finalized. Several steps were presented: 1) Attend UPCCA meeting Jan. 27th 7:00pm at Christ the King Lutheran Church to hear Simpsonwood’s financial consultant and to express your support for maintaining green space in our community. Everyone wear green! ; 2) Immediately send positive letters to influential local government and Methodist leaders. Find names and addresses on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-for-Simpsonwood-Conservancy/1420156501550917; 3) Sign CSC petition supporting conservancy options—or better yet—get blank petition sheets from CSC Facebook page and canvass your neighbors for signatures; 4) Take active role on the CSC by emailing your name, street address and indicate your area of interest to Jim Erdy at simpsonwoodconservancy.csc@gmail.com; 5) Stay informed of developments by Liking Us on Simpsonwood Facebook page. Time is definitely of the essence, so if you love our green space and want to preserve it, you need to act in the next few weeks. Mimi Anderson, Peachtree Station, CSC
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 09, 2014 at 09:53 AM
From the CSC Facebook page: Every child who has been educated at Simpson Elementary knows the story of Miss Ludie Simpson. She is the matriarch of the community. The unspoiled beauty of Simpsonwood is her legacy. She left it to us. Not developers. Not millionaires for riverfront mansions. She left it to the trees, to the wildlife, to the clean air we breath. To the trout, and the river banks unblemished by yard chemicals. Miss Ludie understood the value of land unspoiled. Miss Ludie left it as a gift for her creator. Penny Armstrong Bernath
AL January 09, 2014 at 10:51 AM
"...She left it to us. Not developers...Miss Ludie left it as a gift for her creator." Very well put - likely the best of many positive comments I've read in support of preserving Simpsonwood. I visit there often, and every time I set foot on that land I give thanks twice: first to God for the surrounding beauty of nature, and second to Miss Ludie for gifting it to us and to future generations. It should remain this way for all time, as she intended.
Cathy Freeman January 09, 2014 at 11:16 AM
Kudos to all who attended the meeting - you are why Peachtree Corners is a great place to live.
CARIV January 10, 2014 at 03:01 PM
From a legal perspective, I was surprised and encouraged to hear that the City has legal standing to ask that the ruling be set aside. In my opinion, we should encourage the City to actively pursue this avenue. I am a member of the Simpsonwood UMC congregation - one of over a thousand congregations making up the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. The conference is the ultimate owner of the land under discussion. The conference has been losing money with regard to this property – someone told me as much as $500,000 a year. I am empathetic to the conference’s focus on stewardship, but think legally and per UMC precepts that the conference has a higher duty to the “trust” that it created when Miss Simpson gave them the land. The City has this land as green space in the recently approved land use plan. The City’s Community Development Director contributed to the presentation and the city council member representing this district was present as well (surprisingly quiet during Q&A time). As a concerned citizen, we need to hear from our elected City officials regarding their position on Simpsonwood.
Christian Griffith January 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM
The facebook page is really: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-for-Simpsonwood-Conservancy/1420156501550917 The page posted above in the Patch article is the January 7th "event" page.
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM
Thanks for catching that Christian - must have copied the wrong link.
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Message from Jim Erdy - CSC : The Founding Members of the CSC thank all of you for joining us at the meeting Tuesday evening. We have received over two hundred emails telling us that the meeting was worthwhile and that great things are expected from the CSC. This response is overwhelming and humbling but remember that each of you who joined us Tuesday and indicated that you wished to volunteer is also a member of the CSC. The CSC is not some anonymous group of people, it is all of us. It is with our combined strength that we will have our voices heard. There is a lot of work to do in a short time. Some of this work is labor intensive and some of it is mind bogglingly complex but with the help of each of you there is nothing that can not be done. Very soon, you will be receiving an email from Kathy Erdy and Lorie Schiff who are organizing the effort of canvassing for signatures on the petition. We are taking two avenues in the petition drive: 1) direct house to house canvassing in our respective neighborhoods, and 2) an online petition drive. There are over 35,000 residents in Peachtree Corners, I believe that we can get at least 30% of the residents to sign our petition within a two week period. Mimi Anderson is leading the effort in the letter writing/email campaign. She is available via this email address to answer your questions and provide direction. Just place Mimi Anderson in the Subject line of your email to contact her. Lastly, we are taking very seriously what we heard Grace Lewis tell us. We have started work in this area. One of the first things that I am asking for is that a Tax Accountant step forward to help the CSC get the tax status of a Non-Profit Organization in place at both the Federal and State levels. After we accomplish this we will proceed to raising funds for the potential legal action. Believe me when I say that we are not waiting for the tax status to be in place before getting the legal ball rolling, we are hard at work, right now. I am closing this short update with a heart felt thanks to each of you - for all of your encouraging words and your desire to join the CSC to see this through to a successful conclusion. Jim Erdy CSC

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