Originally created 07/20/98

Home front: Areas against mobile homes



Mobile homes are a common sight in parts of south Augusta, but some homeowners are telling developers and county officials that trailers are no longer welcome.

Mobile homes reduce land values nearby and give south Augusta a bad reputation, said Goshen Realty broker-in-charge Phyllis Holland.

"We're building homes in the $100,000s. That's the development we want," she said. "Any time you have trailers, it brings that value down. We're tired of hearing negative stuff about Goshen."

A half-dozen Goshen-area homeowners attended a Richmond County Planning Commission meeting last week to speak against manufactured housing on McDade Farm Road off Old Waynesboro Road.

One of them, Anne Johnson, said she wanted to leave her home of 24 years after three mobile homes appeared across the road from her house.

"I've lived in a mobile home and I have no problem with them," she said. "But they need to be in certain areas. They turn into slums in 10 or 20 years. That isn't where I think we should be going in this area. My neighbor already has a `for sale' sign up."

But residents like Ms. Holland and Mrs. Johnson can do little to stop new mobile homes from coming into their area.

That's because large chunks of south Augusta, including much of the Goshen area, is zoned agricultural, meaning property owners may put manufactured homes on the land.

Many residents are clamoring for these areas to be rezoned R-1, for single-family residences -- so trailer parks won't be allowed.

In May, the Augusta Commission rezoned about 700 parcels of land near Windsor Spring and Tobacco roads to R-1.

The future of another chunk of agriculturally zoned land, about 1,300 parcels from Old Waynesboro Road to the Hephzibah city limit, will be discussed at a planning commission meeting next month at Goshen Elementary School on Old Waynesboro Road.

If that land is rezoned to R-1, the planning commission will consider rezoning a third area south of Bobby Jones Expressway toward Tobacco Road.

With 48,000 developable vacant lots, south Richmond County is "the future of our development," said planning commission Executive Director George A. Patty.

"There's a long history of manufactured housing in Richmond County, and you've got to allow it someplace," Mr. Patty said. "But we feel like in the next 20 years, mobile homes aren't the best use of that land. They're an impediment to growth."

Rezoning land to keep out mobile homes isn't fair, said Kristin Hutto, office manager for Rascal Enterprises, which developed the land on McDade Farm Road across from Mrs. Johnson's house.

"We just sell the land," she said. "People put what they want on it. It could be a home, or it could be a mobile home. This isn't a trailer park. We have standards."

Developers of mobile-home subdivisions aren't popular among south Augustans. McDade Farm Road homeowner Ernestine Crews said she's "sick of developers from Martinez coming out here.

"They stick anything up," she said. "They just want to make some quick money. They don't care about our neighborhoods like we do."