Originally created 06/18/04

Residents sue to halt path's way



NORTH AUGUSTA - John and Valerie Zentz say they support the development of North Augusta's Greeneway, a pedestrian-friendly network of nature trails. But they contend that a connector path that will cut along the west side of their two-story cottage-style house on Bolin Road is an unnecessary intrusion on their privacy, and they have sued to stop it.

"We'll essentially have the Greeneway on all four sides of our house by 30 yards," Mr. Zentz said.

"There's already a paved access to the Greeneway 160 yards from where this path hits. It just seems it's not a good use of taxpayer money."

Though construction began Thursday on the 650-foot path on a parcel of land that adjoins the Zentz property, a suit seeking a permanent injunction against the city remains pending in Aiken County Common Pleas Court. The Zentzes contend that the path would violate a restrictive covenant in place at the Martintowne subdivision, which says "no lot shall be used except for residential purposes."

"Our contention is that the city-owned property is a part of the Martintowne subdivision, and we're asking the court to make a determination on if the covenant applies," said Richard Taylor, an attorney representing the Zentzes.

North Augusta City Attorney Kelly Zier said the 1.7-acre parcel - donated to the city several years ago - isn't included in the subdivision lots that are restricted by the covenant. He said he doesn't think the city's intended use is a violation of the covenant in the first place.

"Are sidewalks not allowed in a residential subdivision?" Mr. Zier asked. "There's a difference between commercial usage and residential usage, and I think generally public parks are permitted within residential neighborhoods."

The couple weren't happy to see crews doing clearing and grading work on the trail Thursday, but Mr. Zentz knows it isn't easy fighting city hall.

"The bottom line is the covenants don't allow it, and that's all we have," he said. "We really don't expect to win, but we at least have got to try."

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or stephen.gurr@augustachronicle.com.

North Augusta will likely respond within a week to the suit seeking an injunction against its Greeneway path off Bolin Road. No court date is set, but construction could be completed within a month. The matter might end up before a Master of Equity judge.