Harrisburg community voice concerns about new apartments

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Controversy surrounding the future of a building that has a prominent place in Augusta’s past.

Developers want to turn the old Board of Education building that is on Heckle Street off of Walton Way into apartments, but some who live around there are not happy about the idea. It went before the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday and was approved with stipulations.

“We wanted to be some place where we can serve our neighbors. It is hard to be the light of Christ when you live in a suburban neighborhood and everyone is like you,” Franklin Broander, who lives in the Harrisburg community, said.

Broander and his wife moved to the Harrisburg community last year to minister to the people living there, but now that 43 apartments will be built in the old board of education building, they have some concerns. The main entrance/exit to the apartments is sketched to be on this land directly across from their driveway.

“Children [live] two doors down, [there are] children in the house after that, and kids get home from school, and they are playing,” Broander explained. “And there’s a baby and a nine year-old staying in this house, but that house won’t be there because it will be a driveway.”

“There’s going to be a lot of younger 20’s type people moving in there, and hopefully they’re going to use some discipline and walk to the bars instead of driving, but there is no sidewalks,” Michael Thurman who owns property in Harrisburg said

Though Thurman has concerns, he is glad to see the architecture firm is preserving the building’s architecture: “It’s very important that you keep the area looking historical, but you have to keep in mind safety. You are going to be doubling, maybe tripling the amount of people driving through there.”

But Broander’s main concern: He fears the Harrisburg he has grown to love won’t sustain.

“It’s not an area that is going to survive,” He told NewsChannel 6. “A lot of these people will be pushed out if there is that kind of development.”

Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project as long as it doesn’t exceed 43 units, a traffic study is conducted, all parking is off-street with a total of 85 parking spaces, a sidewalk is built and a retention pond is built beneath the ground for storm water.

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