Originally created 08/01/98

Zoning is being fought



Hephzibah-area homeowners want to organize to keep manufactured homes out of their back yards.

About 50 of them met Friday night to form a Hephzibah homeowners' association, which would lobby Augusta Commission to manage growth in south Richmond.

"We know we can't stop growth, but we want a say in how that growth develops," said Carol Hollingsworth, who was elected president of the association at the meeting. "We're not snobs, but we believe in neighborhood and a responsibility one neighbor has to another."

Hephzibah residents can do little to prevent mobile-home development now because much of the area is zoned agricultural, which allows manufactured housing. Two large chunks of south Richmond may be rezoned R-1, which doesn't allow manufactured homes, but those areas don't include Hephzibah.

"There has to be a place for them to go by law," planning commission Director George Patty told the residents. "Manufactured housing is proliferating all over the South. That's the direction we're going. We'd zone them all out if we could, but that's just not legal."

Because the land zoned agricultural in that area can't be rezoned overnight -- if ever -- some homeowners want to draft a covenant as part of the homeowners' group.

A covenant is a voluntary agreement that an owner places on a property for 20 years. The only stipulation of this proposed covenant would be no manufacturing housing on the land, but members could petition other homeowners for an exception. The government doesn't enforce covenants.

"It's the only way to solve the short-term problem," said Wright McLeod, a Bransford Road resident who organized the meeting. "We've never been organized because we didn't want anyone else telling us what to do with our land. That's been our choice. But that's got to change if we want to protect the beauty and value of our land now."

To join the homeowners' association or ask questions about a possible covenant, call Ms. Hollingsworth at 592-2896.