Originally created 05/29/99

Zoning sparks dispute



The proposed rezoning of 126 acres for a large mobile home development has residents of a South Augusta neighborhood riled and ready to go to war to stop it.

"Community Alert, Stop the Rezoning" reads a 4-foot-by-8-foot sign in front of Ray and Billie Disher's Brown Road home.

The Dishers and other homeowners in the area are concerned that locating a large mobile home park nearby will hurt property values and bring congestion to their quiet country neighborhood.

According to the application for rezoning submitted by landowner Joe E. Ulm of Augusta, the 126-acre tract of woodland would be accessible only by Duncan Drive, a narrow dirt track off Brown Road, dotted with a few rundown houses and mobile homes.

But part of the development would border Mr. Disher's property line, something he's not eager to see.

"That's the last thing I want to see sitting out on my deck are a bunch of trailers sitting in my back yard," Mr. Disher said.

All the land in that area was part of a massive rezoning effort last year, which changed about 14,000 acres of agricultural zoned property south of Tobacco Road to residential zoning.

As part of Augusta-Richmond County's comprehensive development plan, officials are hoping to develop the area into the county's next suburban community.

Like most everyone else, Mr. Ulm's property is now zoned for normal residential development -- which prohibits mobile homes.

Josephine Ulm, his wife, said her husband has a buyer for the property if he can get the rezoning approved. She would not reveal the name of the potential buyer, who would put mobile homes on the property.

"We never requested to have it rezoned from agricultural in the first place," she said.

Their request can expect opposition from the Dishers and their neighbors when the request is heard June 7 before the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission.

But before county officials consider granting their request, Mr. Ulm may have to submit a development plan showing compliance with a few conditions, said George Patty, executive director of the planning commission.

Among the conditions are a limit of 100 mobile home lots, and provisions to include public sewer service and a paved road built to county standards, Mr. Patty said.

"If they were willing to do those things then the planning commission would have to consider it," he said.

S.B. Crawford can be reached at (706) 823-3217 or scraw@augustachronicle.com.