Originally created 02/11/99

Housing development plan may stir protests



AIKEN -- The city Planning Commission is bracing for protests from the equestrian community over a developer's plans to put planned-unit housing beside the oval racetrack where spring and fall steeplechases are held.

It will come before the Planning Commission as an annexation request for 33.6 acres east of Powderhouse Road and south of Ford Conger Field.

Lacey Realty's preliminary plans call for 160 units of housing, including cottages and several patio homes. As a PUD, or planned-unit development, the neighborhood would have common grounds and commonly owned amenities as well.

The North Augusta company would place a buffer zone between the development and Ford Conger Field, but that is not expected to appease the horse community, which considers the area sacrosanct.

But organizations and individuals involved with horses have not stepped forward to buy the property while it has been on the market, Planning Commission Chairman Ronny Bolton said. Because of its location and shape, the land has not sold, and the selling price has dropped from $25,000 to $15,000 an acre, he said.

Jeff Lacey did not disclose what his family's company is paying for it, but he said the price dictates high-density development to get a good return on the investment.

"A PUD is a red flag in the horse community," Commissioner Rachel d'Entremont said at a work session this week where the proposed project came up, predicting a wave of dissent.

The Lacey plan will have to be revised some, said Edwin C. Evans, the city's director of Planning and Community Development. The preliminary drawings were done without the assistance of municipal staff and do not conform to PUD requirements fully.

But the Laceys are amenable to change and expect to create a classy community, despite the PUD classification, the family spokesman said. The cottages on the lower end of the property will likely sell for $79,000 to $90,000 and the attached patio homes for $90,000 to $110,000.