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Proposed townhome development on Skinner Mill Road opposed by neighbors

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A proposed townhome community bordering subdivisions on Skinner Mill Road has drummed up opposition from homeowners.

Gary Gilmer, a former Atlanta developer, is seeking to rezone two adjacent parcels at 3217 and 3221 Skinner Mill Road from single-family residential to multi-family residential that would accommodate his 66-unit townhome development — a community which he described as high-end and having a “village” feel.

Opponents of Gilmer’s request, scheduled to go before the Augusta Planning Commission on Monday, contend traffic would increase on the already busy thoroughfare. Their main fear, however, is plummeting property values that would result from a new development, with smaller homes and lot sizes than their nearby homes.

“Whether they’re pretty or not doesn’t matter,” said Rick Acree, who lives across from the property on Skinner Mill Road. “It’s not in keeping with the character of the community. If he wants to build townhomes, there are places that he can do that, and it would be consistent with what’s already there.”

Gilmer, who now lives in Thomson and serves as treasurer on the Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce, said he’d been eyeing the six-acre property for about six months, noting its proximity to restaurants, shopping outlets and other commercial spots as ideal for retirees, students and Masters patrons.

The development, which Gilmer called “Worthington,” would consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. Each townhome would include Craftsman-style architecture, one- or two-car garages, timber accents and staggered elevations. The neighborhood also would feature antique street lighting and a central congregation area for residents, Gilmer said.

Though the property is bordered on one side by detached-home subdivisions, the other end is framed by apartment complexes.

“You need a variety of product I think for community to be real successful,” he said. “Back in Atlanta, every little community has their own variety.”

In Atlanta, Gilmer developed mixed-use buildings, townhomes and single-family homes for about 20 years. His projects ranged anywhere from $250,000 to $6 million, but Gilmer said he took a big hit financially after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. started shutting down banks.

Gilmer moved full-time to Thomson in 2008 and has since been involved in home renovation projects, fire restorations and mold remediation across the area, he said.

Gilmer said he also plans this year to build 22 townhomes on a Columbia County parcel near the future Gander Mountain store.

For the Skinner Mill Road project, Gilmer and business partner Vance Henry are proposing a density of 10.9 units per acre, which is less than the 17 units per acre maximum set forth in the multi-family residential zoning district. Initially, the duo had toyed with adding more units but scaled back after hearing concerns from neighbors, Gilmer said.

The estimated $11.5 million project would be built in three phases, likely to be completed within two years. Gilmer said he’d price the units between the high $140,000s and about $200,000. Binding covenants, he said, would be drawn to govern homeowners in the neighborhood.

“The last thing we want is for something to go downhill,” he said. “This has very strict guidance that prohibits that.”

Still, more than 100 neighboring property owners from Waverly, Dorchester, Woodbluff and several other neighborhoods have signed a petition to prevent the rezoning from passing, said Acree, who is also the city’s facilities manager.

“The 30909 zip code has more apartment units than any other zip code in the city of Augusta,” he said. “We don’t need any more multi-family in that area.”

At an April 28 neighborhood meeting, those residents voiced their dissatisfaction to Augusta Commissioner Donnie Smith, who has said he opposes the rezoning for the burden it would place on traffic and schools.

Gilmer said he and Vance have gone door-to-door talking with neighbors and believes the negative perception about the project is starting to change. He said early misinformation that the development would consist of apartments likely created a stigma.

Acree, who plans to protest the rezoning at Monday’s meeting, said townhomes would be just as detrimental to his property value as apartments.

“Whether it’s 105 apartments, which would be permitted under the zoning they requested, or 66 townhomes, it’s still substantially more dense than the neighbors we’ve got now,” he said.

RESIDENTIAL REZONING

A former Atlanta developer is seeking to rezone two Skinner Mill Road parcels from single-family residential to multi-family residential for a 66-unit townhome development.

R-3B (MULTIPLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL) ZONE: The permitted uses in this zone district include any single-family or duplex residential use, subject to the restrictions of the applicable zone, plus multi-family residential use at a density not to exceed approximately 17 units per acre. Other permitted uses include single-family attached dwellings and condominiums at a density not to exceed 17 units per acre, lodging or tourist homes, family and group personal care homes, and fraternity or sorority houses. Public parking areas are allowed by special exception.

IF YOU GO: Opponents of the plan will address the Augusta Planning Commission at 3 p.m. Monday in Room 281 of the Augusta Municipal Building.

Source: General guide to zoning districts in Augusta/Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Augusta-Richmond County

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countyman
20120
Points
countyman 05/30/14 - 12:22 am
4
8
30909 and 30907

The city needs to make sure any new townhome development built in the future has to be mixed-use.. The property must have commercial or retail on the bottom floors..

NO developer should be allow to build any new apartments on Stevens Creek, Furys Ferry, Wheeler, Augusta West, Skinner Mill, Boy Scout, Washington, Perimeter Pkwy, Interstate, West Wheeler, Wrightsboro, or Alexander for about 3-5 years.. Put the focus on building high rise condos, single family, or mixed use(condo/office towers).... Let the demand increase for a while and the cheaper complexes(Savannah West) will either be demolished or redeveloped..

Let the south side of Augusta finally get some mid/upper apartment complexes, because the majority of them are old.. The Fort Gordon Place under construction right outside gate 5 will help keep some of the young professionals in South Augusta..

nocnoc
42504
Points
nocnoc 05/30/14 - 05:18 am
4
6
Welcome to Crime

Apartments and duplexes will eventually lead to increase crime in the community around them.

Whoever is fighting the Rezoning should start reading Georgia Law 36-67-3, also known as the STEINBERG ACT, in short, requires the
planners to consider the following when making a recommendation
of zoning:

1. Whether or not the proposal will permit a use that is suitable
in view of the use and development of adjacent and nearby property?

2. Whether or not the proposal will adversely affect the existing
use or usability of adjacent or nearby property?

3. Whether the property to be affected by the proposal has a reasonable economic use as currently zoned?

4. Whether the proposal will result in a use which will or could cause an excessive or burdensome use of existing streets, transportation facilities, utilities or schools?

5. Whether the proposal is in conformity with the policy and intent of the Comprehensive Plan including the land use element?

6. Whether there are other existing or changed conditions
affecting the use and development of the property which gives
supporting grounds for either approval or disapproval of the proposal?

7. Whether the zoning proposal will permit a use which can be considered environmentally adverse to the natural resources, environment and citizens.

http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-36/provisions/chapter-67/...

&

http://www.balch.com/files/Publication/fd1dfebc-aad9-4af6-9066-141bd0c8d...

nocnoc
42504
Points
nocnoc 05/30/14 - 06:04 am
5
6
BTW Speaking of The South Side

The South Side is getting 250 Low Rent units in a new Apartment project built as we speak.

The owners and builders have a long historical track record of building and operating LOW RENT Apartment units, which was documented last year.

Something that privately made the rounds.

FROM: (deleted) @augustaga.gov
To: (deleted) @augustaga.gov]

May ___ 2013
Subject: RE: Augusta Place Apartments
"Typical of some our southside residents, the rumor is circulating that this is a public housing project linked to our housing authority. It would benefit the developer to disclose whatever he can regarding the target market and the positives of the proposed development such as the amenity package, breakdown of units by # bedrooms materials/design...."

IT ISN'T SO NICE TO SEE
Downtown helping Low Income Apartment developers work their PR issues.

OLOBTW
These new South Side Low Income units will rent for about
$100 over Cherry Tree Project Prices. Section 8 sure is working a costing us $$$$$.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 05/30/14 - 07:32 am
4
4
Town homes or apartments
Unpublished

The fact is, no matter what you call multi- family will bring more crime and undesirables to the area. These developers that build the units always talk about high end, but if these units don't rent out at the asking rate they will lower their rates with those signs saying first month free move in today because the banks want their money and you will do what you have to do to pay your payments. If the bank forecloses and takes a loss by selling the units at half price then the rates will come down because the payments for the new owners is less than the original owners and the beat goes on!

AFjoe
2945
Points
AFjoe 05/30/14 - 08:40 am
2
6
Confusing Comments from NOC

The article is discussing Gary Gilmer building high end townhouses. You say the builders have a long history of building low rent houses. Are you talking about Gilmer or just ranting in general.
I'v seen some of Gilmer stuff, non of it looks low rent.
www.gilmerdevelopment.com

Little Lamb
45908
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/14 - 08:08 am
3
1
Woebegone

No developer admits his project will be "low end." They always use the term high end when appearing at the zoning hearings. What occurs after zoning is approved will be less rosy.

Little Lamb
45908
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/14 - 08:11 am
5
1
Density

Putting sixty-six dwelling units on six acres of land on Skinner Mill Road just does not fit in with the surroundings.

historylover
8529
Points
historylover 05/30/14 - 10:16 am
3
0
I must be missing something

Where does it say these will be rental units? The proposed community sounds like the units will be for sale given the fact that they have garages and different styles, etc. Multi-family attached housing does not necessarily mean rental. There are many attached housing developments in Richmond County already have owner occupants.

tl-bro
155
Points
tl-bro 05/30/14 - 10:27 am
1
3
Land Use Restrictions

I bet that all of you telling others what they can or should do with their property also consider yourselves conservatives, or even libertarians. The hypocrisy is thick...

Dixieman
14943
Points
Dixieman 05/30/14 - 10:28 am
2
2
It's already a sketchy area

Some nasty people live in that area adjacent to Brigham Woods. Don't need any more.

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 05/30/14 - 10:47 am
1
0
Look at the single home that

Look at the single home that now sit on that land fronting Skinner Mill Rd. Three of the four are in such disrepair they need to be torn down.

Countyman, Savannah West was demolished by Aug Nat. Much to the delight of its neighbors.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 05/30/14 - 11:08 am
3
0
''Apartments and duplexes

1. ''Apartments and duplexes will eventually lead to increase crime in the community around them.''

Why is the crime rate in South Augusta higher compared to West Augusta? The crime in South Augusta(besides Richmond Hill West) doesn't really have anything to do with apartments(Barton Village, Meadowbrook, Apple Valley, etc are single family neighborhoods)..

2. ''The South Side is getting 250 Low Rent units in a new Apartment project built as we speak. These new South Side Low Income units will rent for about $100 over Cherry Tree Project Prices. Section 8 sure is working a costing us $$$$$.''

Do you have any proof? The cheapest apartments built in Richmond County in the last few years was Avalon($650 to $700 1/br).. Do you have any proof the new apartments will rent for $200?

3. ''The fact is, no matter what you call multi- family will bring more crime and undesirables to the area.''

What crime or undesirables have the Estates at Perimeter, Glen at Alexander, Parc at Flowing Wells, Brigham Woods, or Gateway Crossing brought to the area?

4. ''The article is discussing Gary Gilmer building high end townhouses.''

The comments from Nocnoc are related to another developer and not the person in the article..

5. ''Where does it say these will be rental units?''

They won't be rental units...

6. ''Some nasty people live in that area adjacent to Brigham Woods. Don't need any more.''

This is similar to saying Washington road in Evans is kinda sketchy, because of the complex across from Target or Cox road further down near Greenbrier..

7. ''Countyman, Savannah West was demolished by Aug Nat. Much to the delight of its neighbors.''

The Augusta National is apart of the private sector and they've been discussing tearing down SW years ago.. The same thing will continue to happen if you let the demand increase over time and keep inventory low..

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 05/30/14 - 11:08 am
1
0
Facts are pesky things....

Ask your townhouse dwelling compadres their options for sales....

corgimom
32270
Points
corgimom 05/30/14 - 12:24 pm
1
0
Townhomes eventually turn

Townhomes eventually turn rental, and after a certain point, a lender won't finance a loan in a townhouse development, and then they ALL turn rental when nobody can sell their unit.

corgimom
32270
Points
corgimom 05/30/14 - 12:25 pm
0
0
Port Royal, anyone?

Port Royal, anyone?

corgimom
32270
Points
corgimom 05/30/14 - 12:29 pm
0
0
"The city needs to make sure

"The city needs to make sure any new townhome development built in the future has to be mixed-use.. The property must have commercial or retail on the bottom floors.."

Sure, and take a look at the empty stores in the strip malls. Why would anybody think that the commercial or retail businesses would locate there, and why would you think, Countyman, that everybody would want to live in a development like that?

I sure wouldn't, and I don't know of anybody that would, especially people with children.

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 05/30/14 - 12:54 pm
1
0
Augusta

''Townhomes eventually turn rental, and after a certain point, a lender won't finance a loan in a townhouse development, and then they ALL turn rental when nobody can sell their unit.''

This is comment is extremely false..

''Port Royal, anyone?''

What's the problem with condos over $200,000? I can find multiple 3br/2 bath homes in the suburban counties for under $100,000...

''Sure, and take a look at the empty stores in the strip malls. Why would anybody think that the commercial or retail businesses would locate there, and why would you think, Countyman, that everybody would want to live in a development like that?''

I don't even know what your talking about.. What strip mills? Locate where? And how is a strip mall related to a mixed-use development? Developers love to build mix-use developments, because you get to maximize the lack of space.. The trends across the US also suggest many people love to live in them..

lgr
226
Points
lgr 05/30/14 - 01:07 pm
0
0
townhouses and condos

i live in a condo in west augusta. they are 90% rental now. they were not like that 16 years ago when i bought mine, but that is what happens to townhouses and condos. now no one can get financing to buy a unit where i live so all cash sales to people who buy up rental property.and the type of people living here has really changed since it became majority renters. trash all over the place , children locked out all day. it is just horrible now

countyman
20120
Points
countyman 05/30/14 - 01:37 pm
1
0
LGR... Where they originally

LGR... Are they apartments or condos? Where they originally apartments? Can you give us the name of the complex?

The guidelines for the FHA make sure that condo buildings can't be less than 50% owner occupied.. Many associations will limit the number of rental units to under 20%..
http://fhareview.com/the-guidlines-fhaapprovalguidlines/

Condo associations have strict rules in place.. The put a cap on the number of rental units allowed(never close to 90%), they limit the amount of time the unit can be rented out, and they would fine anybody who lives trash all over the place or take possession of their unit..

Little Lamb
45908
Points
Little Lamb 05/30/14 - 02:47 pm
0
0
John Conlee

When I read Countyman's comment directly up above, all I could think of was the country music tune, Rose Colored Glasses that Countyman's looking through.

Gage Creed
17203
Points
Gage Creed 05/30/14 - 04:23 pm
0
0
Facts are pesky things....

" now no one can get financing to buy a unit where i live so all cash sales to people who buy up rental property"

Pretty much tells the tale...

Is that John Conlee I hear in the background?

nocnoc
42504
Points
nocnoc 05/31/14 - 09:17 am
0
0
A false comparison

Stating Barton Village, Meadowbrook, Apple Valley, etc are single family neighborhoods.

Although they are individual houses and not Duplexes or Apartments.
They are PREDOMINATELY Section 8 projects setup to take care of the same low income people that Low Income Apartments would handle.

BTW:

The $100 over Cherry Tree quote came from a person DOWNTOWN.
Who was part of the rezoning debate about approving the 250 Units on the South Side. The other part of the discussion was after they are built, ARC extending the Metro Bus service up Windsor Spring and down Boykin Rd and back towards US-25 Lumpkin Rd. to provide them
transportation.

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