Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said he is surprised by the backlash of negative comments he and other commissioners have received regarding a new Martinez development.
Magnolia Trace, on Old Ferry Road, will feature 50 single-family homes built on 15 acres. The houses are designed for low- to middle-income families, with many residents likely to receive rent vouchers from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“We thought it would be an asset to the neighborhood, which is one of the older neighborhoods in Columbia County,” Cross said.
The belief that the Magnolia Trace development will spark an increase in crime is without merit, Cross said.
Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle seemed less certain.
“We’re very curious about it, and we’re guardedly optimistic, I guess you could say,” Whittle said Friday.
Whittle said he feels more secure about the development after learning that potential renters must first pass criminal background, credit and employment history checks.
Cross mentioned that the maximum annual household income for potential renters is $40,000.
Residents surrounding Magnolia Trace intend to protest the development to the commission when it meets Tuesday. That won’t do them any good, though. Even if the commission could be persuaded to halt the development, Cross said, it is powerless to do so.
“We can’t stop the project since credits already have been issued and the developer has incurred expenses,” he said. “According to DCA, it possibly would have been approved anyway, without our letter of recommendation.”