Country club in zoning trouble

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The Augusta Country Club skipped a step before building its new short-game practice area near the corner of Milledge and Overton roads.

The club should have first gotten approval from the Augusta Commission because it built on residential-zoned land and a chipping and putting green for members who pay to play isn't a residential use, Augusta Planning Commission Executive Director George Patty said. The oversight was unintentional, project engineers said.

When the club sought a "special exception" from the commission last week, a group of neighboring homeowners raised concerns about flooding.

Engineers will meet with residents today in hopes of assuaging objections.

"Usually, these processes go through steps -- one, two three," Mr. Patty said. "I think what we're doing here is three, two, one."

The neighbors' questions led commissioners to put off voting on the matter until Monday's meeting. District 10 Commissioner Don Grantham argued and voted against the postponement. Mr. Grantham, a club member, sold one of eight parcels the club bought that made the practice area possible, and he said he mediated deals that paid other sellers in monthly installments and allowed them to live in their homes until they died.

Mr. Grantham said Wednesday he sees no need to recuse himself from voting on the request.

"I'm not an owner of the club," he said, "just a member through the privilege of the club inviting you to join."

Construction of the practice area started in late August and is about 90 percent complete, lacking only a decorative fence and some shrubs and trees to buffer it from the street, club General Manager Henry Marburger said. The club spent $1.3 million acquiring land to make it possible, buying a row of residential parcels between 1987 and 2006 and razing the last four houses this year.

The confusion stemmed from the golf course as a whole being zoned residential and the eight acquired lots having been absorbed, said Dennis Welch, a vice president for the club's engineering firm, Cranston Engineering Group. The 92-year-old country club predates the city's zoning ordinance and its use as a golf course was grandfathered in.

Mr. Welch said his firm submitted clearing and grading plans to the city in late July, but he didn't know the project required a zoning exception until he got a call from Zoning and Development Administrator Bob Austin. The Planning Commission recommended approval on Oct. 6.

Country Club Hills residents said they're worried the altered landscape could overburden drain pipes downhill.

If anything, Mr. Welch said, the changes have helped drainage by eliminating razed homes' driveways and rooftops, and a retention pond will be installed to catch runoff from a new parking lot.

"We want to catch it before there is a problem," Overton Road resident Janet Stulb said. "We're working with them."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Augusta Planning Commission will vote on the country club's special exception request at a Monday meeting.

Comments (28) Add comment
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HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 10/30/08 - 06:59 am
0
0
Like they are going to be

Like they are going to be fined or something.

shivas
2
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shivas 10/30/08 - 07:00 am
0
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I wonder if the Country Club

I wonder if the Country Club will receive the same tough action as did the Tennis Center at Rae's Creek. Yeah, right.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
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ONLY THE TRUTH 10/30/08 - 07:07 am
0
0
What is Grantham doing voting

What is Grantham doing voting on something that he has a conflict of interest with????

DonH
13
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DonH 10/30/08 - 07:33 am
0
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Good to see the country club

Good to see the country club is environmentally sensitive. "the changes have helped drainage by eliminating razed homes' driveways and rooftops, and a retention pond will be installed to catch runoff from a new parking lot."

paulwheeler
124
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paulwheeler 10/30/08 - 07:38 am
0
0
Who do these people think

Who do these people think they are , The Augusta National?
Although it may be technically legal for Mr. Grantham to vote on this issue, one would think that Mr. Grantham would have a moral obligation to make sure that there is no hint of favoritism in his actions as a commissioner.
Obviously Mr. Grantham does not see things this way.

tnjsw
0
Points
tnjsw 10/30/08 - 07:45 am
0
0
Anther example of "we get by

Anther example of "we get by with anything." Ignorance of the law is no excuse by anybody. Let them pay a fine.

halffull
0
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halffull 10/30/08 - 07:58 am
0
0
Don makes money from selling

Don makes money from selling the land in question, yet there is no conflict. Marion Williams ex son-in-law buys land "near" a "potential" race track and Marion is called a criminal.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 10/30/08 - 08:17 am
0
0
Halful, there is a

Halful, there is a difference. The club has been there 92 years and the race track was not. The race track would have been a for profit business with money supplied by the county. The club is a private club that is not for profit and is supported by initiation fee of $30000.00 plus and monthly dues paid by the members and not with county funds. The fact that Marion gave info to his son in law in hopes that the county would fund the race track makes it not right. tnjsw, have you even seen where the buildings were torn down. The club already owned the property all the way to the backs of these houses and all the way up Overton road. There is no drainage problem. I know because I grew up on one of these properties and played on club land as a child.

Fiat_Lux
15327
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/30/08 - 08:24 am
0
0
You 'have-nots' jealous of

You 'have-nots' jealous of the 'haves' probably should actually know something about a person's character before slandering him in print. The people in this club pay for your welfare and disability checks, so you might think better of biting the hand that feeds you, especially when you don't know what you're talking about.

SargentMidTown
8
Points
SargentMidTown 10/30/08 - 08:31 am
0
0
There is not a segment of the

There is not a segment of the "homeless" population represented in Augusta's golfing country club community. There needs to be a provision to make it mandatory for an outfit like Mercy Ministries to be included in the golfing area. The slum lord investors who play golf on the course should be make aware of life off of the course. The impending Obama presidency will certainly include the homeless and redistribute the income of the Doctors who play the course. www.hongkongaugustaga.org Cournty Club Hills will never be the same. Joe Smith will be proud. What goes around comes around.

mover5
0
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mover5 10/30/08 - 08:42 am
0
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Sargent Midtown, mind your

Sargent Midtown, mind your own business. Worry about your problems in Harrisburg and not what is going on in Country Club Hills.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/30/08 - 08:50 am
0
0
Didn't we do a Grand Jury

Didn't we do a Grand Jury investigation of Williams for spmething like this. I sure hope the commission draws up some rules about ethics, but then they would have to follow them. I guess it would be a good idea to have some laws about changing good tax paying residential properties being changed to basically low taxed parking lots. Sure does seem strange a developer dosen't know to check the Zoning for property before construction began? Oh well, its golf, and we all know if ots golf its OK. We just need to keep out them Drag Strips, don't we?

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 10/30/08 - 08:53 am
0
0
if they called it green space

if they called it green space all would be well. the club also employs over 100 people. will u people of envy ever be happy til you destroy everything?

stevie ray
0
Points
stevie ray 10/30/08 - 10:29 am
0
0
sarge will find anyway

sarge will find anyway possible to get his crap in here. To believe I used to support him. Now, I will do anything I can to help abort his cause....

jack
10
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jack 10/30/08 - 10:35 am
0
0
More class envy. Must be a

More class envy. Must be a bunch of Democrats whining.

Crazy Irish
0
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Crazy Irish 10/30/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
Haven't you heard? Obama says

Haven't you heard? Obama says we need to build from the bottom up. The trickle down theory doesn't work!
So go to the homeless and out of work and ask for a job.

All I can say about the ACC is it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

As It Is
2
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As It Is 10/30/08 - 11:20 am
0
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They are already zoned

They are already zoned residential and added to the club in residential zoning. Why would anyone belive there needs to be more government intervention in a matter such as this. They had the grading plans cleared and have improved the area. This is such a waste of taxpayer time and shows how unnecessarily intrusive even our local governments have become. Seems like you need to file for a permit to request a permit after haveing the plans approved.

aaa
2
Points
aaa 10/30/08 - 11:40 am
0
0
Country Clubs are for the

Country Clubs are for the rich people. Thank God Barack Obama and his party will get rid of rich people. The only people who should be allowed to be members and play on the course are the party bosses and those who are faithful to the party line.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 10/30/08 - 11:44 am
0
0
Another example of backwards
Unpublished

Another example of backwards deals that benefits only a few. Grantham's actions are a CLEAR conflict, but no news stories of secret police investigations. Nothing! And this guy is arrogant in his violations of public trust, while his pockets get fatter. Wow! What a complete joke of a government.

avoter
0
Points
avoter 10/30/08 - 11:56 am
0
0
just to get the fact

just to get the fact straight. the country club was established in 1899 so do the math a little more than 92 years

wrong
0
Points
wrong 10/30/08 - 12:43 pm
0
0
Actually, while the club was

Actually, while the club was founded in 1899, the golf course was not built untill years later and then as part of the vanderbuilt hotel which we now know as the Bon Air Apartment building.

pointstoponder
161
Points
pointstoponder 10/30/08 - 01:04 pm
0
0
I don't care all that much

I don't care all that much for Grantham, but IIRC an earlier article (or maybe it was the Spirit) mentioned that he sold the single piece of property he owned several years ago, not recently. Regardless, he should still recuse himself from voting on any issue dealing with this ACC.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 10/30/08 - 04:00 pm
0
0
While I support the Country

While I support the Country Club in its efforts and do not feel that violated any law with there expansion, I do think Mr. Grantham should recuse himself from voting on the issue as he is a member of the club. I am surprized that I would as a commissioner to abstain, as we all know they do that way too much, but in this case it is warrented.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/30/08 - 04:01 pm
0
0
My thoughts were he's a

My thoughts were he's a member of the club, he should not vote period. People like steve rae and latwan and of course jack, are so ignorant of the tax laws they don't know the difference between residential and commercial zoneing. And as-it-is obviously didn't even read the article or it overwhelmed his brain. And Avoter thinks the zoning permit was issued in 1899 or in his math a little over 92 years ago? My My Margo ain't we smart citizens in Augusta GoGia tiday?

avoter
0
Points
avoter 10/30/08 - 04:22 pm
0
0
the comment was for the age

the comment was for the age of the club not the zoning issue.
zoning laws were not around in 1899.
the club is 109 years old not 92.

corgimom
32126
Points
corgimom 10/30/08 - 05:39 pm
0
0
"The oversight was

"The oversight was unintentional, project engineers said." Oh yeah, we all believe that one.

justthefacts
21696
Points
justthefacts 10/30/08 - 05:42 pm
0
0
I can't speak for Don, but I

I can't speak for Don, but I am pretty sure he doesn't care what you think. Business as usual.

arcdog
0
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arcdog 10/31/08 - 12:04 am
0
0
Grantham's ignorance as to

Grantham's ignorance as to what constitutes a conflict of interest is typical of this foolish commission. Just like with Betty Beard and that building a couple of years ago, this IS a clear conflict.

CanDawgsDoMath
0
Points
CanDawgsDoMath 10/31/08 - 07:11 am
0
0
My main Augusta boss, Levi

My main Augusta boss, Levi Hill IV, will take care of this problem. Heck, he helped create it. Maybe he will assess his membership, using my ACORN group, to manipulate the vote on the clubs first ever assessment. Good thing Levi is a democrat already, or he might be like a Palin manequin in LA. Go Gators..I need their votes.

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