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.

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FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 05/19/09 - 09:02 pm
0
0
If a person has an idea that

If a person has an idea that they can make some money then they should be able to do the project. I'm more into the individualism movement. Look that one up!

easy breezy
14
Points
easy breezy 05/19/09 - 09:20 pm
0
0
Tree Islands in parking lots

Tree Islands in parking lots are very atrractive. Check out the bigger cities and see that they are doing it too. Yes, this law suit will affect us the tax payers in so many ways. Mixed use areas are going up in other places like Sand Hills and Charlotte areas and they are thriving. Little ole Columbia County will make their mark and we will thrive as a community as well. We just need to be careful when voting for these commissioners.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/19/09 - 09:45 pm
0
0
If you want Columbia County

If you want Columbia County to stay prosperous and keep schools that are the envy of the state, keep out apartment complexes. They are bad news for people who value stability and civility.

lawyerdude
35
Points
lawyerdude 05/19/09 - 10:07 pm
0
0
All of Columbia County looks

All of Columbia County looks like a zoning freak show. Just look around. One more development won't make it any better or worse.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 05/19/09 - 10:23 pm
0
0
Ron Cross said, "“We get sued

Ron Cross said, "“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." Hardly the same, Mr. Cross. Of course you said it in an attempt to trivialize the suit. This is going to cost the county millions and the developers will end up with what they want. There have been many cases where counties have tried to zone to keep out low cost housing and the courts have ruled against them. Mt. Laurel Doctrine in NJ is a good example.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 05/20/09 - 05:44 am
0
0
The Commission should not

The Commission should not have let it get this far , we don't need more apartments in the county. The islands in a parking area allow somewhere for the rain water to go. You can't pave over everything with no negative impact on the local environment, remember all of the erosion problems when it rains???

Augustapaperdoll
0
Points
Augustapaperdoll 05/20/09 - 05:46 am
0
0
Glad it got shoot down, All

Glad it got shoot down, All they would have done is bring in 500 more illegal Mexicans to build it and take more work from legal, taxpaying workers.

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 05/20/09 - 05:52 am
0
0
I definitely don't think we

I definitely don't think we need more apartment complexes in Columbia County. Just ask the police department how well the existing apartment complexes compare to other neighborhoods.

LynxRHot
0
Points
LynxRHot 05/20/09 - 06:05 am
0
0
greed....pure greed

greed....pure greed

r11mcbell
0
Points
r11mcbell 05/20/09 - 06:47 am
0
0
I have lived in Atlanta and

I have lived in Atlanta and Tampa for many years. 14 units per acre is a grecious plenty. Go to the cities with higher density and after 10 years, or before, the projects are crime ridden slums. This happens in far more affluent areas than this project. Pick your poison. We can enjoy a nice county like Cross envisions or reinvent Richmond county. Your choice.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 05/20/09 - 07:13 am
0
0
I have never understood the

I have never understood the part about apartments having more crime. Do you think it could be due to the increased population in a smaller area? It would takes miles of neighborhoods to equal the same number of residents. The Sheriff saying apartments get more calls is probably true, but if you would take the same residents and spread them out over the county the same number of incidents requiring police assistance would occur. Plus, it is actually harder to patrol and respond to calls in wide areas of the county.

1941
4
Points
1941 05/20/09 - 09:46 am
0
0
Downtown Augusta, is the most

Downtown Augusta, is the most boring place,I have ever seen. The stores and cafes look so dreary, and always look like they are closed. What is so great about downtown augusta!!!

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