Residents say they will be looking for more information about a planned affordable housing development when they visit Tuesday’s Columbia County Commission meeting.
The Magnolia Trace subdivision, off Old Ferry Road, is slated for 50 single-family rental homes subsidized through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“I don’t want an ‘ah-ha’ moment,” said Jennifer McCray, an organizer of the neighborhood’s opposition who said she plans to supply her questions to commissioners in advance. “I want answers.”
Land already is being cleared for the neighborhood, which will consist of three- and four-bedroom homes from 1,350 to 1,600 square feet, said county Commissioner Trey Allen, based on information he received from the private developer, Affordable Equity Partners Inc.
Repeated phone messages left for Brian Kimes of Affordable Equity Partners were not immediately returned.
The development is expected to cost $9.6 million, with 2 percent of funding coming from housing tax credits, Allen said.
“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,” Johnson said.
Among the questions McCray said she wants answered is whether commissioners at the time they approved that resolution knew of the DCA’s involvement. The agency isn’t mentioned in the resolution, and its name surfaced only in a form letter signed by County Commission Chairman Ron Cross a month after the resolution passed.
McCray obtained a copy of that letter Wednesday, she said, and until then had been under the impression that commissioners didn’t know about the DCA’s involvement. Now she isn’t sure, she said.
McCray, whose home on Butterfield Court is near the site, said while she had known of the property’s high-density residential zoning, in place since 1979, she said she only found out about the subsidized development Nov. 22 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. This affects the entire school system that ... area is zoned for.”
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.
The development, located at the west end of a 0.3 mile stretch of mostly undeveloped land on Old Ferry Road, 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, she said.
If a renter qualifies for the housing program, they would pay $455 to $580 each month in rent, Johnson said.
For residents to qualify for a lease in the community, they must maintain a consistent employment history and credit report, Allen said. Applicants also will be subject to a criminal background check.
Allen, who said his 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.
Petersburg Station resident Damon Cline said the proposal “is out of character with the neighborhood. ... 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.”