An apartment complex is under construction across the street from River Island in Columbia County. Southeastern Development Associates was approved to break ground in March.
Now, the developer agreed to decrease the amount of units.
With a petition of over 1,000 signatures, homeowners across the street didn’t want it then, and they don’t want it now.
Columbia County’s Planning Commission Chair, Jim Cox, says, “these apartments aren’t going to go up overnight. It’s going to take probably twp or three years for them to totally build them out.”
A few more years for a finished product, but the plans for this land have been reserved almost 18 years ago. Something River Island homeowners across the street say they knew nothing about.
Resident of River Island, Jim Spangler, says, “what we have done is looked at a lot of resident reviews for equivalent apartment complexes and there’s a lot of negative reviews.”
Back in March Southeastern Development Associates was approved to break ground on the 305 unit apartment complex. Now, the developer revised the plans to 274 units, putting it back up for approval.
Resident of River Island, Reece Bridges, says, “in the process of submitting that request, they did their legal background, the developer did, and sent a letter to the Planning Commission and address to the Board of Commissioners.”
This the letter says if they take the zoning away, it is considered illega. which is why Bridges believes the county is not digging any deeper.
“The planning commission is running scared and I think the Board of Commissioners is running scared and not willing to take a stand because they do not want to use tax payers money for fighting a legal fight that they think they would lose,” says Bridges.
“I would imagine, we would spend a good bit of time in court,” says Cox. “We would end up paying their attorney’s fees, our attorney’s fees, we might even be assessed damages and they’d build anyway.”
So, is the homeowner’s petition with over 1,000 signatures even credible?
“You know we look at petitions, but I can honestly say petitions, when I’m making a decision, don’t particularly effect the way I look at something,” says Cox.
The Planning Commission approved the decrease in apartment units on December 5th. That decision will now go to Commission. The next meeting is December 17th at 6 pm.