Originally created 06/11/04

Suit aims to stop subdivision



Residents of the Lake Olmstead area have filed suit in Richmond County Superior Court to halt the development of a high-density subdivision in their community.

The suit, filed Thursday by attorney Robert W. Hunter III on behalf of Lakemont Neighborhood Association LLC against Augusta-Richmond County, the Augusta Planning Commission and LRP Investment Group LLC, asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the construction of Walnut Park subdivision at Woodbine Road and Eustice Drive.

Superior Court Judge Albert Pickett has scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. Monday.

Developer Ron Lewis and his business partner are building a subdivision on a 2.21-acre lot, which Lakemont residents contend was approved in violation of county ordinance.

Mr. Hunter said the city's planning commission violated ordinances in approving a setback variance when it failed to properly notify nearby homeowners of the variance request or post a required sign in the area.

The commission also erred in approving a flawed plat that did not reflect all easements with the appropriate setbacks and by issuing a variance to a corporation that is inactive in Georgia, the suit states.

About 40 residents turned out for a news conference at the municipal building on Greene Street to show their opposition to the development.

Several carried signs stating that they oppose the small lots, which they see as the start of turning their quiet, established neighborhood into a rental area of rundown houses, noise and traffic congestion.

The neighborhoods west of Lake Olmstead are zoned R-1A, which permits lots of 10,000 square feet.

Augusta Commissioner Tommy Boyles, whose District 7 seat encompasses Lake Olmstead, attended the news conference and supports the homeowners even though he is technically now a defendant in the case.

The suit contends that in LRP Investment's application, the stated reason for seeking the variance was "the protection of some trees."

"These trees were cut down shortly after the variance was granted without approval of the Augusta Tree Commission," the suit states.

The subdivision plan also will endanger the public safety because of the lack of proper sight lines at the intersection where the property is being developed, according to the suit.

LRP is trying to complete the development in a hurry so there will be no need for an injunction, the suit states.

The homeowners are asking the court to issue temporary and permanent restraining orders against LRP Investment and to order the city to hold another hearing on the variance.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a case.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.



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