Gwinnett County therapy horse farm saved from foreclosure


Gwinnett County therapy horse farm saved from foreclosure

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Vino Wong
In this June 26, 2008 photo, Cole Simonds, 5 1/2, of Lilburn, rides the horse flat on his back with help from volunteer Terry Allen, left, of Lawrenceville, and Dr. Marilyn Peterson of Snellville, during a therapeutic ride at Parkwood Farms Therapy Center in Snellville. The center provides therapy for children with special needs including autism, Downs' Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, emotional problems and learning disabilities.

A therapy horse farm in Gwinnett County celebrated closing on a deal that saved it from the threat of foreclosure Tuesday afternoon.

Parkwood Farms owner Marilyn Peterson closed on the deal with Everhome Mortgage at 1 p.m. Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and Peterson held a “victory press conference” two hours later to celebrate months of hard work.

Peterson said she had been fighting foreclosure of the farm through the court for nearly two years.

The owner’s problems began when she bought what she called a “predatory loan” in 2004 and tried to refinance it in 2011.

“They only saw the life of the loan as two years. After that, it went to an ARM [adjustable-rate mortgage]. They sold it to another company and our mortgage payment more than doubled,” Peterson previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And at the same time, the economy took a turn for the worse. It was a double whammy.”

Peterson previously told the AJC that she began the farm to treat children like her autistic son and felt that closing the farm would end a beneficial public service.

She reached out to Occupy Our Homes Atlanta the day sheriff’s deputies showed up in November threatening to evict her from the farm because her case was in litigation in federal court.

“It’s a clear injustice,” said Occupy Our Homes member Tim Franzen. “We have a few fights that we’ve taken up that are just a no-brainer. When those kinds of fights land on your doorstep, then I think that’s an obligation.”

In late November, Occupy Our Homes and Parkwood Farms moved the previously evicted horses back onto the farm in defiance of a court order and resumed helping disabled children.

The group organized candlelight vigils on the farm, held protests at the bank law firm’s office, launched online petitions and raised money before striking the deal with Everhome.

Everhome declined to comment about the deal to the AJC and said the company can only provide loan information to the customer. Franzen and Peterson also declined to comment on the details of the deal, except to declare it a victory.

“We never consider anything safe and sound until the ink is dry and that actually happened today,” Franzen said. “The farm is safe and Dr. Peterson … is now the owner. We’re very excited that all the work that has been done up to this point has made the farm safe forever.”

The victorious groups are planning a larger celebration on July 13 at 7 p.m. at Parkwood Farms.

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