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Neighbors not sold on Magnolia Trace housing

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News that an affordable-housing development would be built in an established Martinez neighborhood left homeowners upset and clamoring for answers a year ago.

Signs posted at the entrance of Magnolia Trace on Old Ferry Road warn against trespassing. County officials said construction on homes and a clubhouse in the "affordable housing" development in Martinez is complete.  JENNA MARTIN/STAFF
JENNA MARTIN/STAFF
Signs posted at the entrance of Magnolia Trace on Old Ferry Road warn against trespassing. County officials said construction on homes and a clubhouse in the "affordable housing" development in Martinez is complete.

Today, negative perceptions of the Magnolia Trace subdivision persist for many area residents as construction on the 50 single-family rental homes off Old Ferry Road is complete.

“I think they may (feel) even more strongly because it’s about to happen,” said Sandra Kelly, who lives on Old Ferry Road with her husband. “People could be moving in there any day.”

Residents became aware in late 2011 that the development, spanning 15 acres, would consist of three- and four-bedroom homes available at a lower rent than comparable housing. In return, developers Affordable Equity Partners would be eligible to receive tax credits through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

A local leasing agent for the development referred all inquiries to the AEP headquarters in Columbia, Mo. Multiple attempts to reach company officials were unsuccessful.

Kelly said she fears declining property values and an increase in crime once renters move in.

“We felt that we would spend our retirement years here in this safe little community where we wouldn’t have to be afraid of going out our door,” she said. “I’m just not sure that’s the same feeling that we have anymore.”

County officials attribute community opposition to what commission Chairman Ron Cross called “misinformation.”

“It’s not a government project,” Cross said. “It is a private-sector project.

“They get their reimbursement for the lower rents from these large corporations who buy the tax credits. It’s to (the developer’s) benefit to keep everything in good shape.”

Cross said the nearly 300 applicants for the housing units included local firefighters and police officers.

Certificates of occupancy have been issued for all 50 homes and a clubhouse in Magnolia Trace, signaling the completion of construction, said Columbia County Development Services Director Richard Harmon.

There were some water-drainage issues for homes abutting the property during the building phase, Harmon said, but those problems have been rectified.

A move-in date for the development has not been announced.

In order to live in Magnolia Trace, tenants must be employed and make $40,000 or less annually. Applicants also are subject to credit and criminal background checks, Cross said.

Many neighbors remain adamant that the development could turn into a complex like the crime-riddled Cherry Tree Crossing in Augusta.

Cheryl Stewart, who lives near the rental homes, said her son wants her to sell the home she’s lived in for 32 years.

“If I wanted to move, I would not be able to get what I needed to get out of it to go buy something else because of the depreciation,” said Stewart.

She said several homes in her area have gone on the market in the past year and haven’t sold, which she blamed on the proximity to Magnolia Trace.

Many also think county officials were underhanded in getting the project approved.

In June 2010, Cross and District 2 Commissioner Trey Allen met with AEP representatives about the project before commissioners approved a resolution in support of it.

“They went behind everyone’s back,” said Crestview Drive resident Tom Sauls.

Cross said the county likely would have faced a legal challenge under the federal Fair Housing Act if they had denied the request.

“We didn’t have any basic right of refusal in the first place,” Cross said. “We just didn’t see any reason to fight it because we really thought it would be a benefit to the working individuals and families.”

An attorney hired by the county in Dec. 2011 to review the development said officials had no legal recourse to halt it.

Both sides seem to agree on the current aesthetic appeal of Magnolia Trace, where brick homes line landscaped lots with sidewalks on lighted streets.

“I have never seen a subdivision quite like this, and that’s a positive statement,” Harmon said. “As far as the construction of it, the homes and the landscaping are remarkable.”

Cross said he hopes the development maintains that appearance.

“The main thing I want to see is how it will be six months and a year later after it’s occupied,” Cross said. “My expectations are that people will take pride in the neighborhood and see they’ve got a new place to live.”

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LLArms
470
Points
LLArms 01/07/13 - 11:33 am
4
0
Well, if cops move into the

Well, if cops move into the neighborhood as the article indicates some have applied - that is a good thing right? What kind of criminal trash wants to willingly live next to a cop?

Sweet son
10778
Points
Sweet son 01/07/13 - 12:18 pm
3
0
Maybe the folks from Cherry Tree Crossing will be "movin........

on up!" LOL! I don't live close to the Magnolia Trace project but it makes me sick for those who do.

jamc1103
141
Points
jamc1103 01/07/13 - 12:20 pm
2
0
Maybe flawed logic LLArms......

Many apartment complexes let cop's stay there for free or for a discounted rate for this very reason. So they usually have one or two officers living in the neighborhood. However, a lot of apartment complexes have a high crime rate....

beboisme
425
Points
beboisme 01/07/13 - 02:05 pm
3
0
Qualifications state that the

Qualifications state that the tenants must be employed and earn 40,000. or less per year. Cherry Tree Crossing residents will most likely not be residents at Magnolia because most of those residents don't work, and that will probably be the ticket to keep the rif-raff out of the area. Let us just pray they go somewhere besides S.Augusta. Have had our fill of these folks from Gilbert Manor and the other places that have been taken down. The folks from the projects have never learned to live in a civil neighborhood. No one has taught them the how too's of a normal living environment and most of them don't want to learn anything anyway. Why couldn't the Housing Authority have built aparments for them to move to before their homes are torn down and keep them together as it should be. These folks are comfortable with each other and share the same mentality, they are not a part of the contributors in society. They are what they are, they are the gimmies and know how to work the system, and to be honest most of them are completely satisfied with their livestyle.

noway
201
Points
noway 01/07/13 - 05:27 pm
3
1
Deal with it

The people that will live there are working people who don't make a lot of money. These are people like you and me who work hard but make crappy wages. They probably work for you. The key here is that they work and they too want a nice place to live in a good neighborhood. Research shows that these neighborhoods are good for everyone, but you all act like people who are "poor" means that they don't take care of stuff. These will be responsible, working people. There are a ton of people who make less than $40,000 and they aren't scum. Geez.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 01/08/13 - 04:09 am
0
1
Oh please, don't give me that mess.
Unpublished

Just because they work you think that means something?? Why is it they are so special to get brand new houses they didn't earn and have help paying for? The rest of us have to work and afford it with no help and they arent brand spnking new with ammenities. I've seen it too many times. Work at a fast food place getting gov't assistance, THEN keep having more kids than you can afford....Bam...you get a brand new place with subsidized rent. That working mom doesn't watch those 6 kids as needed and the hood turns to a hood!! Happening here in martinez right now in existing apartment complexes. Just because it is houses you think it will be different??? And these punks do not care one bit about cops living nearby. The only way I would approve of this is if it were for law enforcement only, as at least they could get a little more than thier measly pay they get now for thier tough jobs. Can't pay a cop a decent salary for putting his life ont he line dailu....but we can keep supporting these immoral baby factories for life and allow them to keep sucking the well dry by producing even more little gov't dependants to raise when we can't pay productive citizens what they are worth for working and now we can't even let them live in peace or keep the propety values they EARNED!

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 07:55 am
4
0
Time will tell

Well let's face it....you can only put so many in South Augusta.....they have their share.....soooo open up because it is coming your way Columbia county.....no I'm not a happy camper about it either.....you will have to buy enough land around you to keep any privacy in the future.....

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 08:35 am
2
0
noway

noway says...Research shows that these neighborhoods are good for everyone

Well you will have to show me that research...I have some that says the opposite..

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 08:52 am
2
0
This headline funny

Neighbors are not sold on Magnolia Trace

Why not just say...they are jumping up mad as all get out....steaming angry....don't dad burn want the dang place...hahaha...ya funny AC..

bigj706
1254
Points
bigj706 01/08/13 - 09:16 am
1
0
What research do you have

What research do you have that shows that hard working people don't take care of their homes that they pay a monthly mortgage its not section 8 or something like that its just people who don't earn that much to stay in an expensive neighborhood but still wants the same thing for their family. Do you think all the hard hours they put in at work and not making that much to show for it that want to live by people who will rob them or make it unsafe for their kids? It must be nice to see everyone else as lazy because they cant afford the same things as I can..

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 09:32 am
2
0
Research section 8 housing

Google it for yourself please...if I have time I will put some on here.....if you are law abiding--working & striving for a better life well great...I'm all for that neighbor...but if you have a history of jailtime-crime-breakins-etc etc....it won't help theneighborhood.....
Some on here such as open curtain have lived with this in the past....many in South Augusta could write a book about it....maybe some will relate their stories on here today....
Believe me many have TRIED to help needy neighbors....MANY...it didn't pan out ....

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 09:34 am
2
0
Please don't talk to me about poor

Been there--done that....didn't get gov help either....

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 09:38 am
2
0
Some info.....

Section 8 rental subsidies have long been one of the most controversial federal social programs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Obama administration is making a troubled program worse.

In the 1990s, the feds were embarrassed by skyrocketing crime rates in public housing—up to 10 times the national average, according to HUD studies and many newspaper reports. The government's response was to hand out vouchers to residents of the projects (authorized under Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974), dispersing them to safer and more upscale locales.

Section 8's budget soared to $19 billion this year from $7 billion in 1994. HUD now picks up the rent for more than two million households nationwide; tenants pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities while the feds pay the rest. Section 8 recipients receive monthly rental subsidies of up to $2,851 in the Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., area, $2,764 in Honolulu and $2,582 in Columbia, Md.

But the dispersal of public housing residents to quieter neighborhoods has failed to weed out the criminal element that made life miserable for most residents of the projects. "Homicide was simply moved to a new location, not eliminated," concluded University of Louisville criminologist Geetha Suresh in a 2009 article in Homicide Studies. In Louisville, Memphis, and other cities, violent crime skyrocketed in neighborhoods where Section 8 recipients resettled.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/08/13 - 09:47 am
0
2
I think if they properly

I think if they properly screen the new tenants, there would likely be no problems at all. Look at the neighborhood they came from to start.

urright
465
Points
urright 01/08/13 - 09:51 am
2
0
$40,000

The $40,000 they are talking about is for a family. Show me 2 working adults who don't make $40,000 a year. You notice they said cops and firefighters APPLIED for housing--not that any of them got it. A single deputy with a child was turned down because she makes too much money. Columbia County jailers make too much to live in the neighborhood. Just look at the salaries posted on this website and you'll know it was never meant for LE, Firefighers, or EMT's.

JRC2024
9419
Points
JRC2024 01/08/13 - 09:59 am
0
1
Seeit, crime will always go

Seenit, crime will always go up where these type people move in. On another note I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I went there last week to see the houses. The builder had the roads blocked but the homes were nicer than those of the surrounding area. I only hope as many do that the bad are weeded out. Help should only be to those with no criminal record and good credit. That seems to me a good way to keep out the bad.

soapy_725
43817
Points
soapy_725 01/08/13 - 10:03 am
1
0
Unconstitutional?
Unpublished

To prohibit someone from living wherever they choose? Did not Jimmah Cotta pass the Fair Housing Law? There is something wrong with a neighborhood with a salary cap? Did we not address this forty years ago?

A family of four with two parents working at Wally World can qualify. Heck, they are below the poverty line and are subsidized by the federal government.

And with pre planned government controlled housing, it is not just the owner/rent payer that is the issue.

soapy_725
43817
Points
soapy_725 01/08/13 - 10:10 am
1
0
Roughly $20 an hour gross.
Unpublished

Does the $40K include benefit packages? $40K net? If they are bringing home $40K, they would have to make $60K. What salaried employees are making $20 an hour in ARC? For what group were these homes designed? And when the original occupants begin to leave for grener pastures, what then? Section 8 rentals.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 01/08/13 - 10:20 am
0
1
bigj, under your logic, we should all get free/cheap mansions
Unpublished

Does that sound right to you?? What happened to working for what you want and planning not to be broke? You think its right for someone who dropped out of school, had kids, got on govt assistance, works at burger king, had a few more kids they couldnt afford but expect others to pay for, should get a free or pretty darn close to free home as nice as and right next door to the people who went to college and worked hard to get a nice house in a nice neighborhood...and paid for it themselves?? Are you serious???? They want nice things but didnt take the steps to earn them so they should be given to them?? Oh lets not forget all the other people in the same situation not getting this sweet deal. That's fair right??? While everyone else works to pay for thier nice entitlement because they couldnt use the free birth control offered to them. Why should anyone ever try to better themselves or not get into a whole with to many kids or too much debt?? Wheres the incintive to do better if its handed to you out of pity because you made your bed and don't want to lay in it. The ones who deserve these types of things because of things beyond thier control are few and far between, and most of them never get the help they deserve because of all the leeches sucking the programs dry because of the bleeding heart mentality like yours letting them take advantage of the system and thier fellow citizens!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/08/13 - 10:51 am
0
0
Will Liberal Good Intentions,

kill another neighborhood?

Bacon Grease
331
Points
Bacon Grease 01/08/13 - 11:19 am
0
1
Hope and change.

Expect more.

bigj706
1254
Points
bigj706 01/08/13 - 12:47 pm
0
0
Seenit thanks for the

Seenit thanks for the research

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 01/08/13 - 04:38 pm
0
0
You are welcome 706

Anytime....

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