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Magnolia Trace housing development upsetting neighborhoods

Posted: November 30, 2011 - 6:06pm  |  Updated: December 1, 2011 - 9:55am

Twitter @JennaNMartin

Residents upset about a low-income development underway in Martinez are planning to voice their concerns Tuesday  at a Columbia County Commission meeting.
Planned within the Magnolia Trace subdivision, off Old Ferry Road, are 50 single-family rental homes subsidized through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“They came here a year ago and asked the commission for their support on doing some affordable housing for Columbia County,” said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson. “By getting that resolution from the commission, they could then go to the DCA and ask for some assistance in the form of some sort of subsidy.”
Commissioners were not asked to rezone the property since it already was zoned R-3, Johnson said. R-3 zoning is specified for high-density single-family residential development with minimum lot sizes of 7,500 square feet, according to the county’s guidelines.
The parcel has been zoned R-3 since 1979, Johnson said.
The neighborhood will consist of three and four bedroom homes that are between 1,350 to 1,600 square feet, said county Commissioner Trey Allen, according to information he received from the developer, Affordable Equity Partners Inc.
Phone messages left Tuesday and Wednesday for Brian Kimes of Affordable Equity Partners were not immediately returned.
The development cost $9.6 million, with 2 percent of funding coming from housing tax credits, Allen said.
Jennifer McCray, whose home on Butterfield Court is near the site, said she found about the development two days before Thanksgiving after a neighbor passed along a flyer from the developer.
A site plan of the development was displayed on the flyer as were the words “low-income housing,” “tax credit” and “rental,” McCray said.
“They’re going to build these homes and they’re not even going to consider putting a ‘For Sale’ sign in the yard,” she said. “Instead they’re going to put low income, government subsidized families in those homes.”
According to McCray, outrage over the development has spread to people living in neighborhoods as far away as The Pass.
“This affects the entire school system that ... area is zoned for,” McCray said. “The crime rates affect the entire community.
“This has much more far-reaching effects than just my neighborhood.”
McCray and others have made plans to speak at Tuesday’s commission meeting, which is at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Evans Government Center, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans.
“I look forward to the meeting,” said Commissioner Trey Allen. “I look forward to addressing people and I look forward to trying to clear up any misinformation.”
The development is designed to create affordable housing for working professionals, he said.
Because the development is subsidized through the government, renters can’t make more than $40,000. If a renter qualifies for the housing program, they would pay $455 to $580 each month in rent, Johnson said.
The average salary in Martinez is $33,000 for a police officer and firefighter, $32,000 for a teacher, $29,000 for a paramedic and $28,000 for a practical nurse, Allen said.
In order for people to live there, they must meet several criteria. They must maintain a consistent employment history and credit report, Allen said. Applicants will also be subject to a criminal background check.
Allen, whose office has received about 50 calls regarding Magnolia Trace, said he’s been accused of taking bribes and has also received threats by angry homeowners.
Protestors have also created a Facebook page in opposition of Magnolia Trace.
Many living in subdivisions surrounding the 15-acre property received a flyer letting them know that a Section 8 housing development was being built near them and to call Allen, who represents that area, to stop the project.
Petersburg Station resident Damon Cline said he received such a notice in his mailbox.
“It’s out of character with the neighborhood,” he said. “If it were market-rate apartments, it would be different.
“It just doesn’t seem to me that this is the course that Columbia County wants to go.”
County officials vehemently deny the claim that the development is Section 8 housing, a term Allen doesn’t believe to exist anymore.
While renters using home choice vouchers, known to many as Section 8 housing, cannot be legally denied from living at Magnolia Trace, Allen pointed out that there are about 200 vouchers already being used in the county.
“If they have 50 applicants without vouchers that meet the (requirements), all 50 homes may be rented and not one of them will have a voucher,” he said.
Landscaping as well as upkeep and maintenance of the homes will be provided by the developer, Allen said.
Like McCray and Cline, Jessica Ham worried about the development's possible affect on property values and crime rates.
“Our sense of security is gone knowing now that they’re going to have low-income property back there,” said Ham, whose home backs up to the site.


What: Discussion of Magnolia Trace at Columbia County Commission meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Evans Government Center Auditorium, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans

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Comments (16)


Magnolia Trace

Allen and Cross got hoodwinked and now it is time for these leaders to lead the charge and get this pile of crap stopped.


Why Not Richmond County?

So the Ga Dept of Community Affairs comes to you and you don't get it, Scott Johnson? How hard would it have been to refer them to Richmond County where low income housing would be welcomed?

By the way, interesting that county police officers make more than teachers and paramedics.


It's about time that Columbia

It's about time that Columbia County to get a share of the riff raff that has been destroying Augusta!

augusta citizen

Why didn't they get it?

Riverman, That's what I was thinking, why didn't they get it?


Not every one who is low

Not every one who is low income is a criminal despite what a lot of Columbia county residents think. They need to realize that outside of someone working at SRS or Fort Gordon the vast majority of the area jobs pay half of nothing even when you have a college degree. I have been a system engineer working for several small businesses in Columbia county making no more than $36000/yr. With the market rate of Apartments in Columbia county between $509 and $1352 I would be forced to have a roommate to think about living in the area. Magnolia Trace would give good people a chance to live in Columbia county. After readying the opinions in the article I'm not sure why anyone would want to surround themselves with all of the prejudice and malice toward people they have never met.

Little Lamb

Smart Move

As a tactical maneuver, the county's approval of this project was brilliant. They have just bought themselves ten years of good graces with officials at HUD. They can deny projects like this for many, many years down the road and not be touched with allegations of insensitivity toward the less fortunate. If any bureaucrat complains that Columbia does not have sufficient low-income housing, Scott Johnson can point to Magnolia Trace and tell the bureaucrat to stuff it.

Little Lamb

Household Income?

County administrator Scott Johnson said:

Because the development is subsidized through the government, renters can’t make more than $40,000.

If this income limit is for the entire household, I predict a whole lot of singles will be occupying those three and four bedroom homes. Working couples (even room-mates) would go over $40k in almost every case. Therefore, the project should not put much of a burden on the school system.


The Birth of a Getto?

Wow, Little lamb you are optimistic! You're right about singles, single Mothers with their broods... Show me ONE subsidized neighborhood that improved the area around it. This is a disaster for the county, the Schools, S.O., & Public Safety Dept's. The call volume alone from all three agencies will impact the overall safety of the whole county. Projects, subsidized housing, etc promotes each subsequent generation to continue the family tradition of the "handout". Urban projects, have two, three and sometimes four generations stuck in a cycle living together with only one obvisously way out, saddle up, get an education and then a job.

Austin Rhodes

Why not Richmond County?

I was told it was because Richmond County said NO.

How 'bout them apples?


This would be great for

This would be great for single parent households or even single income households where a spouse has been laid off and can't find work.

I'm curious though, would those criminal background checks be completed annually on every member of the household?

If the income numbers the article notes are for real, why not offer up the housing to public servants? Personally, I'd rather see housing for the disabled or seniors.



Well, it would upset me if I lived near there.

This is what happens we we live in a nanny state situation. You've got to put them somewhere.

I say end welfare. It is a proven failure. People stay on it, their kids go on it, it has become a way of life for many.

Self Reliance, Freedom and Independence used to mean something in America. Now we are the Entitled States of America (who are going broke).


Does Renter Pay...........

Does the renter pay the entire rent or is it to be subsidized by HUD. Then comes the free school breakfast and lunch and lets not forget the after school baby care. Take a ride through Harrisburg and you'll get the idea.

Bobby Hill

Asleep at the wheel...

Either commissioners are being deceitful OR they were alseep at the wheel when they approved this fiasco...Either way someone needs to be jobless!!! Didnt they fire a librarian for being asleep at work and not paying attention?? Was his mistake a million dollar one? Heck no but he lost his job!!


Spring Lakes Trey

Spring Lakes Trey...says it all. And this is not even in his district.

Little Lamb

Excuse Me

To blues550: When I looked at the commission districts map on the Columbia County government web site, it appeared that the parcel where the 50 homes are to be built are in District 2, which is currently being represented by Trey Allen.



first of all not all section 8 people are bad......its crime everywhere where u go no matter if ur low income or not thank u........i think sum of yall on here is bein judgemental.... why is this such a big issue?????????