Suit against Columbia County commision seeks $57.5 million

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:35 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 10:09 PM
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Developers for a proposed multi-use center in Evans filed a $57.5 million lawsuit today against the Columbia County Commission.

Filed at the Columbia County Clerk of Court’s office, the lawsuit contends that conditions imposed earlier this month by commissioners on site plan revisions for the Marshall Square development are “overly restrictive, unduly burdensome, serve no legitimate public purpose and deprive Marshall Square of valuable vested rights to develop the property.”

Developers are seeking $40 million in punitive damages, in addition to attorneys’ fees, and $17.5 million in compensation for the property’s diminished value.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross said today that he expected a lawsuit from the developers, but not so soon.

“We get sued from time to time (by) people that either are unhappy with us, or unhappy with the sheriff, or unhappy with anything government,” Mr. Cross said.

At a May 5 meeting, commissioners altered a site plan revision to the 47-acre planned unit development. They said that the proposed apartment density far exceeded the 14 units per acre as allowed by law in zonings outside of developments like Marshall Square.

The commission did approve the revisions, but only after limiting the number of apartment units to 14 per acre. Such a low density only afforded developers 189 apartment units at the site. Developers were seeking 288 units.

The suit maintains that “high quality, high density, multi-family housing” has been part of Marshall Square’s original plan that was approved by commissioners in 2004. That plan allowed 34 units per acre, which equates to 459 units on 13.5 acres.

The suit also alleges that commissioners met privately before the May 5 meeting and agreed to limit the property’s residential density to 14 units per acre. It further contends that commissioners “failed to notify the public or Marshall Square of the (board of commissioners’) secret, illegal meeting on May 5, 2009.”

Following the meeting, senior developer Bill Marsh, of the Miller-Valentine Group, called the commission’s decision a “complete defeat” and said their ruling effectively killed the project.

Reach Jenna Martin at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109,

or jenna.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (42) Add comment
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colcamp1
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colcamp1 05/19/09 - 04:23 pm
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They should sue and get

They should sue and get whatever they are asking. Right???

tl-bro
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tl-bro 05/19/09 - 04:24 pm
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It's about time some

It's about time some developer stood up for their private property rights.

coolette
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coolette 05/19/09 - 04:35 pm
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As a homeowner in a near by

As a homeowner in a near by neighborhood, I personally don't want a big apartment complex near my home. I think it could affect home values in the future in a negative way. We have a great deal invested in our home and don't want to see property values decrease. I am glad they decided against it. Less is more can be a good thing!!

tl-bro
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tl-bro 05/19/09 - 04:38 pm
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Coolette - isn't that the

Coolette - isn't that the same tired argument that was made when the Evans Wal-Mart was in the works? There is no proof that the Wal-Mart reduced property values, and this proposed development is much more "upscale" than the Wal-Mart.

Rucker1
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Rucker1 05/19/09 - 04:59 pm
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i agree with you ti-bro, now

i agree with you ti-bro, now there going to be a big piece of land just going to be sitting there, what an eye sore!

georgiastoryteller
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georgiastoryteller 05/19/09 - 05:41 pm
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I say if they back out of

I say if they back out of their obligations, make them replant EVERY DOGGONE TREE that they tore down and build a public park instead with fountains and a walking trail. There!

egan01
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egan01 05/19/09 - 06:36 pm
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Shooting down that

Shooting down that developement is about as smart as those pesky little tree islands in parking lots. They want every thing to look like a post card regardless of profit and cost.

coolette
10
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coolette 05/19/09 - 06:37 pm
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Evans Central Park, Ilove

Evans Central Park, Ilove that idea, complete with a dog park!! Good idea!!!!

Little Lamb
49247
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Little Lamb 05/19/09 - 06:43 pm
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Time will cool the crocodile

Time will cool the crocodile tears and the feigned anger of Miller-Valentine Group and their lawyers. Time to stall the lawsuit.

asustudent75
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asustudent75 05/19/09 - 06:46 pm
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Does not surprise me in the

Does not surprise me in the least that the development was shot down. Why did Col. Co. even consider the idea, have the developer draw up plans and have the land cleared when Col. Co. was going to re-nig? Well, I guess Chili's will be able to expand ALOT!! I live approx. 1 mile from this barren wasteland and had a feeling that something like this was going to happen. Getting more and more like Augusta Richmond County Commission....someone has a good idea and then it is shot down right before the actual development begins. Typical.

storiesihaveread
369
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storiesihaveread 05/19/09 - 06:56 pm
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They really need to stop

They really need to stop building all these shopping centers. There is going to be 3 food lions with in a 10 miles. There is new Super Wal-Mart between 2 of them. I come home tonight and see Georgia power replacing wooden power poles with these huge cement poles. The county needs to stop now adding more shopping centers. You can only have one car dealer taking over a dead shopping center i.e the old Rose's store on Columbia Road

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 05/19/09 - 06:58 pm
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Little Lamb, by now you know

Little Lamb, by now you know I'm on your side. The Miller-Valentine Group was ALL about money, from the very start...which is okay,because they are a business. But, this group of folks changed the plans so many times it made our heads spin! With all due respect, some of you folks that are contributing your opinions now have not been following this story until now. There are a couple more apartment complexes being built at this very time, so why do we need more? The commissioners saw this and sought to change the policy before it was too late. Living around here, we all KNOW good and well that the retail area involved would've probably ended up like many of the vacant, desolate, ugly strip centers around both Columbia and Richmond Counties.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 07:27 pm
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I hope they get every cent

I hope they get every cent that they ask for. Hey columbia county, your strangling growth. Private property is just that, so keep your fingers out of a legit business's plans. Zoning and build restrictions infringe on personal liberty. Let this be a warning shot over the bow....

asustudent75
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asustudent75 05/19/09 - 08:04 pm
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Oh, and by the way, it is not

Oh, and by the way, it is not Columbia County itself that is being sued, it is us, the residents in the county! I guess we can all look forward to having much higher property taxes to pay because of Columbia County's bad judgement!

Taylor B
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:05 pm
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hey chat, vote them out.

hey chat, vote them out.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:12 pm
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I don't understand why

I don't understand why communities in this day and age dont take a cities like Boca Ratons restrictions. If you have never been let me tell you they have it right. When you want to build something you have to have a green space buffer between the road and the parking lots and buildings. No huge signs or billboards. You drive down the street and you think you are in some rural community when in actuallity your in a major populated area. Someone need to build a Mizner Park out there in Columbia county.

Grasshopper
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Grasshopper 05/19/09 - 08:12 pm
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Mixed use areas are popular

Mixed use areas are popular these days, set the rental price at 1.50 a sq ft

Taylor B
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:15 pm
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Fedup, is it okay for a city

Fedup, is it okay for a city to look like a city? If you want greenspace and other stuff, move to a place that has it. Why push your opinion of what a business should look like on private property?

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:21 pm
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FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:23 pm
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Well mainly everyone wants

Well mainly everyone wants their property values to increase atctaylorb. They require underground utilities too.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:25 pm
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I want my property value to

I want my property value to increase, but not at the cost of personal liberty and freedom of anyone else.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:31 pm
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"personal liberty and freedom

"personal liberty and freedom of anyone else". Laff, I bet you think gay marrage is wrong too!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:33 pm
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Fedup, no way. You don't know

Fedup, no way. You don't know me too well do you?

FedupwithAUG
0
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:42 pm
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well I'm glad you dont.

well I'm glad you dont.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:45 pm
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Fed, I'm a Libertarian, look

Fed, I'm a Libertarian, look it up. Pretty cool stuff

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:50 pm
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what downtown Augusta needs

what downtown Augusta needs is a cocowalk like Coconut Grove FL has. Not a baseball field http://www.galleryatcocowalk.com/

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:52 pm
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Problem is the shops on Broad

Problem is the shops on Broad wouldn't go for it because it would be to popular.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/19/09 - 08:52 pm
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What downtown needs is a

What downtown needs is a lower tax rate, section 8 removal, and to be left alone

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 08:57 pm
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atctaylorb, I'm a big fan of

atctaylorb, I'm a big fan of Ayn Rand's and her books on modern libertarianism. Atlas Shrugged is my favorite books read it 3 times. I know the foundation of libertarianism. It's great until your neighbor decides he doesn’t want to pay a sewer bill and puts his outhouse next to your bedroom window!

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