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