Augusta Prep, Springlakes compromise on stadium lights

Friday, Aug 5, 2011 10:39 AM
Last updated 5:50 PM
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Augusta Preparatory Day School’s football team is one step closer to playing on Friday nights beneath lights.

The Columbia County Planning Commission approved a modified plan Thursday to bring lights to the Martinez private school’s athletic field. Planning Commissioner Bob Newkirk voted against the project.

School administrators sought four 80- to 90-foot lightposts around the field so football and other sporting events could go on at night.

On July 21, school personnel met with the Springlakes homeowner’s association and reached a mutual agreement, said Thomas Burnside, who was representing Augusta Prep at the meeting.

As part of that agreement, games will not start until after 7:30 p.m. and the lights will be turned off at 10:30 p.m. unless extenuating circumstances arise, Burnside said.

“I hope we buried some hatchets and have a good relationship moving forward,” he said.

Plans to expand stadium seating were reduced from 950 to 490 seats. Also, the number of scheduled evening events at the field was cut from 20 to 10 each school year.

The school won’t use lights for night practices or use the field for anything else involving lights, Burnside said.

They also agreed to add more landscaping as a buffer to help dampen noise and light pollution between the school and adjacent homeowners.

The school sustained a setback to its plans in May, when county commissioners denied adding lights to the field and expanding the stadium. The decision came after many Springlakes residents, who live behind the school off Flowing Wells Road, complained about excess noise and light generated by potential night games.

Several residents living in Springlakes also showed up Thursday to voice their concern.

“I feel like this is something trying to get rammed down our throats,” said Priscilla Bence, who worried about long-term effects the sound would have on sleep and hearing.

Former county commissioner Tommy Mercer asked that the item be tabled due to legality issues of the agreement reached by the school and homeowner’s association.

“That’s a separate issue, and that’s between them” said Planning Commission Chairwoman Jean Garniewicz. “If there’s a problem, you need to work that out. That’s not our decision here this evening.”

 

Reach Jenna Martin at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109 or

jenna.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Donnie Fetter
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Donnie Fetter 08/05/11 - 10:34 am
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It should be noted that the

It should be noted that the Planning Commission is a recommending body only. It will be up to the full commission to make a determination.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 08/05/11 - 11:07 am
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Rammed down your throats?

Rammed down your throats? LOL. Hey, they have some lots at Knob Hill that would be perfect for these people.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 08/05/11 - 11:37 am
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I am with you Taylor. Ms.

I am with you Taylor. Ms. Bence needs to give it up!! It is only 10 nights out of 365 days of the year. Maybe she can rent a movie! Jeezzzzzzzz. It is for school sports. Ask any student athelete about their experience in a few years. Ninety percent of the comments will be positive about learning how to win and how to lose. Guess what? That is what the real world is all about!

tckr1983
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tckr1983 08/05/11 - 12:32 pm
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Seems like Springlakes hasn't

Seems like Springlakes hasn't changed one bit since I lived there when I was little... what high school in Columbia County ISN'T around a neighborhood? Lakeside... check. Evans... check. Grovetown... check. Augusta Christian... check. Kids passing out with a few even dying from the heat and these people are worried about a little extra light and some noise. And yes, I've lived in Hudson Trace before right behind Westside's football field... long story short, I still have my hearing Ms. Bence. Who want's to play football on friday afternoon? Suck it up and let the kids have fun!

tckr1983
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tckr1983 08/05/11 - 12:33 pm
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It's not exactly Sanford

It's not exactly Sanford stadium...

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 08/05/11 - 12:37 pm
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Long term effects...give me a

Long term effects...give me a break. There are neighorboods behind football fields all over the place, including Columbia County.

If this were a public school, it wouldn't even be an issue as the lights would be up and on as needed backed fully by the government.

There is NO reason for the HOA to have been acting like this - at least now they are "sort of" trying to work with the school.

hockeymann
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hockeymann 08/05/11 - 03:32 pm
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I agree..Let 'em play ball at

I agree..Let 'em play ball at night. Sure too hot in the daytime for half
the season...Hate to say it. Probably cost me a sale w/someone, but
some of these homeowners associations get too carried away with
their perceptions of power..

BanjoStang
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BanjoStang 08/05/11 - 11:42 pm
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Go Prep

Go Prep

tckr1983
365
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tckr1983 08/05/11 - 07:21 pm
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Banjo- I believe that should

Banjo- I believe that should be up to Augusta Prep. They're a private school, you won't be paying for it unless your kids go there... Augusta Christian paid for all of their own upgrades. If they want permanent seats and lights, they should be able to do just that... like all the other high school stadiums around here.

All the other schools in the area are around neighborhoods too, so this issue is near the top of the ridiculous list. If you buy a house near a school... there is probably going to be a better than slim chance that lights/football games will occur, if not now, sometime in the future. The people of Springlakes need to think about when they were in high school and let the kids have fun. High school is over before you know it and then it's the real world...

Like I said, it's not Sanford Stadium... it's not even some of the areas high school basketball gyms in terms of capacity.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 08/05/11 - 07:53 pm
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You know what? I don't have

You know what? I don't have a dog in this "fight" (don't live in Springlakes), but I do think that the residents of Springlakes have every right to complain about this and fight it if they feel led to. No matter what everyone else thinks, this is THEIR neighborhood and, if they feel encroached upon, then they can complain and protest whatever it is that is "threatening" their peace and quiet. My neighbors and I have that right, and so do you and your neighbors. What is a big deal to us, may not be a big deal to you, and vice versa.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 08/05/11 - 08:19 pm
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They bought a house near a

They bought a house near a high-school... the way the field is currently angled, the lights wouldn't even be aiming at the houses closest to the football field. It's just a little much to be talking about long-term hearing problems, come on now... jet planes aren't taking off from Augusta Prep. They (Springlakes) have every right, but it's still only a few nights out of the year and a few hours each time... just lighten up people.

BanjoStang
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BanjoStang 08/05/11 - 11:43 pm
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tckr1983, I am a prep parent

tckr1983,
I am a prep parent that is trying to be rational about this issue.

Prep is a wonderful school with caring and hardworking staff, teachers, parents and students. I truly hope that a reasonable solution can be found that will support both the school and the community.

tckr1983
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tckr1983 08/06/11 - 10:49 am
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It's a good school, I went to

It's a good school, I went to Augusta Christian and routinely competed against Prep in every sport under the sun... It's hard to reach a fair compromise however for Augusta Prep with people using long-term hearing loss as a deterrent to the new improvements Augusta Prep apparently wants for its athletic field. That's just a laughable excuse. Good luck.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 08/06/11 - 02:50 pm
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Property rights? Augusta Prep

Property rights? Augusta Prep pays taxes like the folks in Springlakes. The parents pay taxes, even school taxes they shouldnt.

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