When Shawna and Ben Woodward started shopping for a new home to accommodate their family of six, they knew exactly where they wanted to live: Riverwood Plantation in Evans.
They loved the 3,800-acre planned neighborhood's parks, natural elements and "community feel," said Ben Woodward, a worship pastor at Journey Community Church.
When a new section was added to the development a few years ago, they decided to make their dream a reality. They moved into their new home in February 2009.
"We absolutely love being across from the park and the view off the front porch," said Shawna, a real estate agent for Re/Max of Augusta. "The view is the best feature of this house."
Ben added: "Our house sits on a hill, so in the summertime, we have the most beautiful sunsets. The sun sets right over the hills, and it looks like you're in the mountains."
The community is so peaceful that they couldn't sleep the night they moved in, he said.
"We used to live right next to I-20, and when we got out here it was pitch black and all we heard was crickets," Ben said.
At night, they can hear whippoorwills when they go out to the porch. The community has its share of other wildlife, including deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, armadillos and rattlesnakes. Sometimes they drive around the neighborhood looking for deer, he said.
The Woodwards live in Bedford, one of 16 neighborhoods at Riverwood. An architectural review board ensures that homes have unique exteriors..
"It was so much fun to build this house because we got to pick everything. I had a great time. We got to customize it from the ground up," Shawna said.
They wanted extra living space, so they added five feet to the master bedroom. That enabled them to fit in a couch and entertainment center.
"It's almost like a second living room for us," Ben said. "We spend probably as much time in there as a family as we do in here (the living room). All six of us were in there the other night playing bowling on the Wi."
They replaced a hall closet with a hall tree for their four children to place their bookbags, and outside they built a fire pit. The children were allowed to decorate their own rooms.
"We let them do whatever they wanted to do, within reason, to meet their personalities," Shawna said.
Schools are nearby, and the neighborhood is a great place to let the children go outside and play, Shawna said.
"I feel like it's safe. I don't have to worry about them," she said. "It reminds me of when we were kids. A lot of people don't get to do that anymore. You just can't let your kids go outside and play."
The Woodwards love the amenities at Riverwood, which include a pool, clubhouse and community garden where residents can rent space and enjoy the company of other gardeners. Plans call for a village center that will contain stores and businesses.
Despite the peacefulness, Riverwood Plantation is far from boring. The Woodwards receive e-mails almost daily about community activities, such as poker games and get-togethers. They gather regularly with neighbors for cookouts. Every other Wednesday, they hold a small group Bible study, which some of their neighbors also attend.
"It's always busy," Ben said.
He said that he loves their home because it is "homey and warm." They plan to live there until all of their children move out.