Cherry Tree residents unfazed by delay in moving

Buddy Oldfield, an official with the Augusta Housing Authority, answers questions from Cherry Tree resident Johnnie Robinson.



Residents of Cherry Tree Crossing were largely unfazed by news Tuesday that demolition of the housing project won’t happen as soon as officials originally announced.

At a required public hearing, Augusta Housing Authority officials notified about 100 residents in attendance that the application for demolition is nearly completed but won’t be submitted to U.S. Housing and Urban Development until mid- to late May.

HUD has up to six months to rule on the application but could make a decision in as little as one or two months, said Buddy Oldfield, director of resident services.

If the application is approved, the housing authority must give a required 90-day notice to residents before beginning to move out residents.

When the housing authority announced the planned demolition in October, officials said they hoped to have HUD approval this spring so residents with children could move out before a new school year began.

“We hope it’s soon for your sake. We want to get this thing done,” Oldfield told the residents Tuesday.

Unlike prior public meetings at Cherry Tree Crossing, residents listened quietly, asking few questions. Many said they’ve been well-informed by the housing authority.

“I am waiting patiently,” said resident Darlene Mathis. “There are so many families here and you just can’t rush things.”

Laura Jones, who has three school-aged sons, said she doesn’t want to move during the school year but that the housing authority has handled the process properly.

“They are doing it the way they need to be doing it,” Jones said.

Richard Arfman, director of planning and development, said the application for demolition was delayed while the city completed a required environment review. Requirements for Georgia’s historic preservation office were also time-consuming, he said.

Sara Brunson, a Cherry Tree resident for more than 10 years, said the extra time before moving out allows families to search for new housing and save money for moving expenses.

“They (residents) have adjusted to the fact that this move is going to be good for their family.”

Cherry Tree residents can submit written comments on the proposed demolition to the Augusta Housing Authority until April 26.

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