Lake Olmstead-area residents held an emergency meeting Friday to map a strategy for stopping an unwanted development in their community.
Developer Ron Lewis and his business partner plan to build a seven-lot subdivision, Walnut Park, on a 2.21-acre lot at Woodbine Road and Eustice Drive.
Residents see the dense development as the start of turning their quiet, established neighborhood of tall trees and large lots into a rental area of rundown homes, noise and traffic congestion. They were not pacified by Mr. Lewis' assurances that the development would be upscale, with houses selling in the $189,000 to $215,000 range.
The residents are equally concerned that they were not told of the development until some of them received notices that the Richmond County Board of Zoning Appeals was meet- ing Monday to consider Mr. Lewis' request that the existing 50-foot setback be changed to 30 feet.
"Why weren't we notified?" Bedford Drive resident Carolyn Powell asked. "I think you should have had the respect and decency to let us know what was going on."
More than a dozen people attended the zoning meeting, at which the board voted 6-2 in favor of the developers.
By law, residents within 300 feet of a planned development must be notified of a variance request, but some who should have been told said they weren't.
Planning Commission Director George Patty said that if proper notice wasn't given, the board must hold another hearing.
The neighborhoods west of Lake Olmstead are zoned R-1A, according to Mr. Patty, which allows lots of 10,000 square feet. Mr. Lewis' plat met all the requirements of the planning commission and other city offices.
But toward the end of Friday's meeting, resident Ken Sharp, an engineer, found what he said were three areas where the approved plat did not meet the R-1A requirements.
"He should go back and ask for three variances," Mr. Sharp said.
The major problem with the development, he said, was that Mr. Lewis was not merely subdividing the property but developing a subdivision, which requires developers to meet stricter standards.
For example, a spring that runs near the property would have to be included on a development plan and be approved by the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Sharp said.
"If they're going to build a subdivision, they need to get a subdivision approved," he said.
The real task before Lake Olmstead residents, however, is to get a R-1 zoning that requires larger lots, Mr. Sharp said.
"We are being set up to be slaughtered," he said.
"Increased density. The future is a lot of little tiny lots. Imagine Lakemont with a lot of little-bitty houses."
The residents plan to put together a list of questions and issues to deliver to Mr. Patty and other city officials while determining whether everyone who should have been notified of the zoning board meeting was, said Charles Scavullo, the meeting's moderator.
The residents plan to meet again in two weeks.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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