Can't stop Magnolia Trace, attorney tells Columbia County

Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 1:10 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 12:57 AM
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Columbia County officials have no recourse to stop an unpopular development in Martinez, according to a lawyer hired to investigate the issue.

“In sum, it is my opinion that any action taken at this point by the county in an effort to stop the development of Magnolia Trace would likely fail and would open the county to a suit or suits for damages and other relief,” wrote Savannah attorney Patrick T. O’Connor to County Administrator Scott Johnson in a letter dated Dec. 19. “Such actions could be initiated by an aggrieved party, the United States Department of Justice, or the State of Georgia.”

Commissioners voted last month to hire O’Connor following complaints from hundreds of residents near the planned “affordable housing” project on Old Ferry Road.

Missouri-based Affordable Equity Partners arranged last year with the Department of Community Affairs to receive tax credits to construct 50 single-family homes on the 15-acre site.

The commission supported that effort with a resolution passed in June 2010.

Unlike most items commissioners vote on, the resolution never was discussed in committee meetings prior to the commission vote.

Though unwilling to discuss his findings, O’Connor said Monday that he sent the letter to Johnson on the day it was dated.

Since that time, the commission has met twice, but did not openly discuss O’Connor’s findings.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115 or

donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (34) Add comment
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iLove
626
Points
iLove 01/09/12 - 02:20 pm
0
0
Ha, ha, ha. . . wait, that's
Unpublished

Ha, ha, ha. . . wait, that's immature right?

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/09/12 - 02:27 pm
0
0
Well this is a big DUH. Now

Well this is a big DUH.

Now they wasted even MORE of our tax money hiring an attorney (who I'm sure is a Ron Cross "friend") to look into this.

Ron Cross & one other commissioner had a private meeting with this developer. They KNEW what was coming. They did this to Columbia County. They should be voted out or recalled by the citizens.

Filthy, rotten politicians. Every darn one of them!

Little Lamb
55699
Points
Little Lamb 01/09/12 - 02:26 pm
0
0
I hope Trey Allen feels like

I hope Trey Allen feels like he got his money's worth for this opinion.

Sweet son
14557
Points
Sweet son 01/09/12 - 02:34 pm
0
0
Don't think I have seen a

Don't think I have seen a dollar amount for the wasted money. Like I said in my other comments this was a waste of money and that the commissioners and planning commission knew what they were doing all along. They also spent money on an attorney and knew what the result would be before he was even hired. Think I will go to the Columbia County GIS maps and see if Cross or any of the other actors in this comedy live in Martinez. You know what these politicans are doing? They are making that area of Martinez look like South Augusta.

my.voice
6277
Points
my.voice 01/09/12 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Why won't you people listen

Why won't you people listen to the facts? The property was already zoned for the use and the county had no say so whatsoever. It has been the current zone for 30 plus years. Denying the development would have put the county on the wrong end of a law suit.

David Parker
7925
Points
David Parker 01/09/12 - 03:15 pm
0
0
Here's another fact. any

Here's another fact. any further debate and all of it up to this point is wasted effort. This was implemented and done so in a way that it could not be reversed. Hiring the attorney was just window dressing for the public and nothing more. The money was made and those who benefitted from Magnolia Trace are not going to diminish their own returns, not b/c a bunch of insignificant residents complain about property values and a decline in the quality of their life. NOW, had there been more monetary value in keeping favor with the residents, I'll bet a cotton-pickin dollar Magnolia Trace would be halted by some technicality or what not. Again, just wasted efforts. The above comment is right in that votes are the only way to get a say in this debacle. Vote or shut it, as my kid would say.

augusta citizen
10877
Points
augusta citizen 01/09/12 - 03:57 pm
0
0
Yeah this is a fine how do

Yeah this is a fine how do you do. I will be using my vote for sure. I guess we need to vote out all incumbents everywhere.

Willow Bailey
20619
Points
Willow Bailey 01/09/12 - 04:30 pm
0
0
my.voice, If that is true,

my.voice, If that is true, and it is what I suspected from the beginning regarding the zoning; why lie about it? Ron Cross should have said that from the beginning. Instead, (I'm sorry Mr. Cross, but it is the truth); he said we looked at it and thought it was great for the County. Was he just too prideful to say he had no choice?

Also, the citizens need complete disclosure about Ben Harbin's alleged involvement regarding aiding the developers with getting huge Federal Funding and tax credits in exchange for financial contributions to his political career? What, If anything, is Ben up to? Get it out in the open.

Also, what can be done to block any more of this type of development?

Outsiders are ruining our housing industry and property values. This doesn't need to be swept under the rug and forgotten.

Little Lamb
55699
Points
Little Lamb 01/10/12 - 12:24 am
0
0
What can be done to block any

What can be done to block any more of this type of development?

Perhaps the simplest thing is for the county government unilaterally to revise the zoning categories and do away with multiple family developments (apartments and condominiums) and do away with R2 and R3 zoning categories. Have only R1 and specify a larger minimum lot size than they currently have.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 01/09/12 - 04:56 pm
0
0
When do the taxpayers get a
Unpublished

When do the taxpayers get a say in footing the bill for having to pay a portion of their hard earned money to pay for irresponsible people to have newer bigger houses than they have? Even if we vote, someone can step in just like has been done saying it is discriminating against poor people. Plenty of poor people live in CC without using their fellow citizens tax dollars to foot the bill. When will these people be held accountable for their own actions? Cant afford kids... dont have them!!!!! Didnt work hard to accumulate the basics through laziness and poor decisions......you dont get them handed to you. The rest of us have to play by those rules, what makes these poor people any different????? SICKENING We have to foot the bill for them to have better than most of us just because they breathe and breed and then they ruin the neighborhood we worked hard to afford and move into the right way and we have to pay again to move away from them!! So sick of it.

Our only chance for any type of savior is that the paying citizens of CC, the CCSO and its fine officers will let these people know we aren't going to let them ruin this area the way they have all across RC!!!!

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 01/09/12 - 04:58 pm
0
0
Augusta Chronicle, please let
Unpublished

Augusta Chronicle, please let us know where we can go to apply to get one of these nice big brand new places in this subdivision. I'd like to see their qualifications for obtaining such assistance with my money!!!

Craig Spinks
819
Points
Craig Spinks 01/09/12 - 05:30 pm
0
0
Which is more effective:

Which is more effective: Whining against politicos on a blog or organizing against them and voting them out?

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 01/09/12 - 05:56 pm
0
0
Good point Craig. I wonder

Good point Craig. I wonder how many of these people who have been raising cain will actually show up on election day and vote these people out? But time and time again these same good ole boys get returned back to office, especially in Columbia County. So I won't be holding my breath. Btw, Craig I saw your article on that website that has been getting a lot of attention lately. Very good and I look forward seeing more of your stuff.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 01/09/12 - 06:06 pm
0
0
Voting will not change the
Unpublished

Voting will not change the "welfare" Bull in this country. Requiring people to have personal responsibility is inhumane in the eyes of the bleeding hearts. The bleeding hearts and the lazy people with their hands out would protest and riot if you make them earn what they get. Why is it if you are perfectly healthy and have been living off the government for years can you create more dependants and get more benefits? Why is there no law to stop this? It will just be shot down by a higher bleeding heart court if any politician tries to change this and his career is ruined for being called a racist. So what can they do? Really? They could bust gov't scammers left and right, but they choose not to because of the backlash from the community and civil rights groups who think its unconstitutional and inhumane to make people work for what they have.......ok you cant get a job?? Stop having more dependants... thats the least they could make these lazy people do.....whats wrong with that.....oh no can't have that, thats infringing on their rights. Its not ok to force them stop taking from people who work, but its ok to force working people to pay for their lazy behinds and/or irresponsible behavior AND pay for them to live better than the taxpayer?? A working person lives paycheck to paycheck and cant afford medical to continue working but if you refuse to work and breed you get 100% medical coverage?? WTH is that?

No vote will change this...... Working taxpayers sick of this need to protest!!! They need to sue the government for stealing from them to pay for these irresponsible people. Way more people abuse these systems than people who truly deserve the help. It is supposed to be to help you help yourselves.... not make a lifelong career out of getting handouts. There is no excuse for anyone to be on govt assistance and have more children period!!!!! I vote.... has it changed????? Do you honstly think it ever will?? Honestly??? Do you honestly see nothing wrong with the way the government encourages people to keep their hand out?

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 01/09/12 - 06:02 pm
0
0
If to fine folks of CC want
Unpublished

If to fine folks of CC want to stop this ....hey there is more than one way to skin a cat..................................quit griping and follow barry's lead..we don't need no stupid laws...or a Constitution.........................

Riverman1
118254
Points
Riverman1 01/09/12 - 06:29 pm
0
0
MyVoice, it's totally

MyVoice, it's totally unrealistic to believe Columbia County hasn't fought low income housing in the past by keeping apartments off of land that could be utilized for them. You are absolutely right federal lawsuits can come about for such tactics, but they haven't so far with the county limiting apartments to certain areas that have been pre-approved.

I believe I'm right in stating at one time there were 12 parcels left where the county said apartments were approved. Later this number was reduced to 7 parcels because of concerns of overcrowding the schools.

Residents near Magnolia Trace have the same concerns of increased traffic the Grovetown folks expressed and dang sure voiced them at the Commission meeting along with a myriad of other concerns. The county could have used the same tactics they used to prevent apartments in the past with this low income rental housing development.

Want to talk about the truth concerning Magnolia Trace? Follow the money the Missouri developer gave to local politicians. Think that's exaggeration? You would be wrong. Want me to name names?

Riverman1
118254
Points
Riverman1 01/09/12 - 06:30 pm
0
0
The same reasoning used here

The same reasoning used here could be said concerning new apartment construction in the county. The county has defined a limited number of areas where future apartments can be constructed and won't allow building in others. So far the county has avoided Fair Housing Acts suits.

With apartments restricted to the areas defined, building an apartment complex even out in the country will not be allowed. It's obvious the zoning is to prevent overcrowding which is a nebulous term that can be used in many ways including with Magnolia Trace.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 01/09/12 - 06:37 pm
0
0
More "not in my backyard"

More "not in my backyard" nonsense. Reminds me of the local squawking about our post office closing.

ironpurps
335
Points
ironpurps 01/09/12 - 07:24 pm
0
0
Let me do the math - two

Let me do the math - two years to build, two years to deteriorate, that makes four years. My kids will be out of Lakeside High. Hmm, I can retire at the beach by then.

walrus4ever
396
Points
walrus4ever 01/09/12 - 07:28 pm
0
0
Work all your life, earn your

Work all your life, earn your way, and pay the salaries of the arrogant hacks that just destroyed your equity. Darn right I wouldnt want it next door. Get rid of the weasels and send a message to the next batch.

Cynical old woman
1113
Points
Cynical old woman 01/09/12 - 07:44 pm
0
0
Yes, hiring an outside

Yes, hiring an outside attorney was yet another waste of money and done for "show" only. Concerned citizens need to do two things:
1. Vote these yokels out of office.
2. Pool their money, buy property near "their" houses and donate the land to subsidized housing projects.

Sweet son
14557
Points
Sweet son 01/09/12 - 08:00 pm
0
0
So as some of you are saying

So as some of you are saying this is a Federal G'ment situation and that all of the locals are scared of getting involved with the ALMIGHTY Department of Justice? I reckon if a company eyes a piece of property anywhere and wants to build low income housing socalled section 8 that they have free reign to do whatever they want because they have the DOJ on their side. Once again if this is true the Feds have too much control on what we do at home! @DONNIE FETTER OR ANYONE how much money did CC waste????

justputtin
1837
Points
justputtin 01/09/12 - 08:51 pm
0
0
Cynical old woman - you

Cynical old woman - you nailed it! "the resolution never was discussed proir to the commission meetings prior to the committee vote"!!!!!!! There was a private meeting beforehand I bet. Everyone vote these good ole boys out!

justputtin
1837
Points
justputtin 01/09/12 - 08:52 pm
0
0
River man, yes, name names!

River man, yes, name names!

blues550
393
Points
blues550 01/09/12 - 11:32 pm
0
0
Cross...bad for Columbia
Unpublished

Cross...bad for Columbia County.

stillamazed
1493
Points
stillamazed 01/10/12 - 10:08 am
0
0
I so regret moving to

I so regret moving to Columbia County, I wish I had found five or ten acres or so out in the country then I would have my own little piece of paradise without worrying about who is moving in next door.......anyone want to guess what the crime rate in CC will jump to after it being built for a couple of years?

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/10/12 - 10:32 am
0
0
stillamazed. I agree with

stillamazed. I agree with you. I don't plan to stay around more than a couple more years and if the housing market hadn't collapsed (thanks liberals), I'd move now. As it is, I couldn't sell my house without massive loss even if I tried.

I'm moving to the country & getting out of tax land & corruption land. Heck, I might even move OUT of the country if the liberals & communists continue their raid on this fine nation. Panama is sounding mighty nice right now.

With all the apartments, outlet type shopping centers that draw vermin/thieves from other counties and Section 8 housing we are getting, crime will surely go up. It is inevitable. I don't plan to be here to witness it.

marianboler
0
Points
marianboler 01/10/12 - 10:33 am
0
0
For a moment not thinking

For a moment not thinking about ourselves..can we think about the good people, family, and especially kids these home will help. Are we so blinded by selfishness? What if you were on the opposite side and this home is just what you needed? As a columbia county resident myself, I can understand both sides but really hope those whom are blessed with this opportunity....especially the kids are able to achieve much success in their future. Low income, section 8, etc all these home have a reputation but as adults this is imature. Many homes in columbia county are rented to section 8 families,crime is crime no matter where you live, and the kids are not to blame. Also we dont know the history of the families that will move into the homes. They may be the greatest people that has had hard times with the economy. Yes we have misfits everywhere including my neighborhood but I dont ask them to move. Bottom line is this. Nothing we can do know but accept the fact that the new homes will give lots of families a new start and kids an opportunity. So instead of thinking of ourselves first lets think of others or try to walk in their shoes. Be thankful for today and what you have because remember it can all be taken from you tomorrow....without notice. Blessing upon you all....

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/10/12 - 11:05 am
0
0
@marianboler. Many of us do

@marianboler. Many of us do think about others. As a result, you should know that there is the most wonderful "free" housing in the world available to them all.

It's called living with family or friends. I do not think I should have to pay (through forced confiscation of my income - i.e. taxes) for someone else's poor choices or even misfortune. That type of care should be left to loved ones and friends who care about them.

I do well in life thanks to motivation and the good decisions I've made, but I do have a back up plan in case my world falls apart. I will live with family. And they will take me. And I would take them if the tables turned.

Everyone has family or friends who can and should help them in times of need. Using the hard earned money of strangers and the force of the government should not be the back up plan.

ATAXPAYER2
0
Points
ATAXPAYER2 01/10/12 - 11:26 am
0
0
The problem with Columbia

The problem with Columbia County citizens??? They think there is no wrong-doing and that poverty and corruption stops at their county lines. Well, wake up! I know several, yes several fine citizens of Columbia County that lie and cheat to get welfare, foodstamps, free clothing, and free medical care. And guess what...it's on your buck! Open your eyes. Look next door. There is no way to tell who is living off your tax dollars just by looking at them. Maybe some of you should find out just how close your nearest Section 8 home is to your own. Your neighbors that place their houses on Section 8 don't need your permission to do it and the county shouldn't be allowed to stop Magnolia Trace either especially when they knew what the property was for to start with.

Columbia County has just as much filth, crime, and corruption as those it sits surrounded by.

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