Lawsuit over apartment zoning puts pressure on Augusta Commission

Some jokingly call the Hillcreek patio home community “copville” for how it’s attracted some of the area’s top law enforcement personnel over the past 20 years.


Richmond County sheriff’s Maj. Gene Johnson, retired CSRA Law Enforcement Trai­ning Center Director Tom Nash and retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength are among those who have purchased homes in the close-knit, relatively quiet community off Augusta West Parkway.

Some homeowners fear that tranquility might be disrupted now that the Augusta Commission is being sued into reconsidering a rezoning action prohibiting another apartment complex in the congested area.

“They think they can get this done right at Christmas. They think no one will notice,” said Elizabeth Nash, Tom’s wife and treasurer of the Hillcreek homeowners association, which has reserved time to speak at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “We’ll have no privacy anymore, and Richmond Coun­ty loses good, hardworking, taxpaying citizens.”

The commission made quick work of the June zoning request, voting 10-0 to deny it before a packed audience of mostly retirement-age homeowners from Hillcreek, the Meadows at Hillcreek and Nevis Townhomes.

The landowner, the L.P. Mays Family Partnership, has filed suit, alleging the commission had no legal reason to deny the request. A motion to rescind the earlier decision is on Tuesday’s commission agenda.

Jim Trotter, an attorney for the Mays family, said Friday that existing uses surrounding the 16.87-acre tract “are no reason that the (Mays) property should not be zoned for apartments.”

The rapidly growing area off Wheeler Road near Doc­tors Hospital boasts other housing complexes, an abundance of office space and a new McDonald’s.

With four commissioners leaving the 10-member panel after the final meeting of the year Tuesday, a decision to rescind the motion doesn’t mean the proposed upscale apartment complex of 252 units can move forward.

Its plan and the zoning change still must receive commission approval before construction begins, Augusta General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles, who is among those leaving office, said he hoped the matter would be referred back to the planning commission if it is rescinded Tues­day.

The item is No. 32 on a lengthy commission agenda that also includes potential renewal of the downtown Business Improvement District, a tax district that has become controversial since it was formed five years ago. Several downtown property owners and activists have signed up to speak against the district.

Also on the agenda is the naming of the new sheriff’s administration building for Strength, approval of a $200,000 allocation to the De­vel­­op­ment Authority of Rich­mond County for infrastructure for a potential retail development, and the hiring of Vir­ginia Beach Golf Man­age­ment to operate Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

Commission rejects zoning proposal for apartment complex
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