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Apartment protest is seven years too late

Posted: May 23, 2012 - 12:06am  |  Updated: May 23, 2012 - 3:13pm

With name spelling corrected.

Real estate agents probably wouldn’t like it, and many otherwise unaware residents might be alarmed. But it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to install signs around Riverwood Plantation pointing out that, yes, apartments are going to be built in that community.

The issue pops up from time to time. Usually it comes as word again recirculates through the suburban grapevine that apartments are part of the overall plan for the massive development surrounding the Greenbrier schools complex.

But it’s important to point out that the plan for Riverwood’s apartments isn’t new. In fact, that might be part of the problem: The designs are so old, and were settled so long ago, that newer residents of the area apparently haven’t heard about those long-range plans. When they do, they seem genuinely surprised, shocked or even angry.

That was abundantly clear last week, when Riverwood resident Chris Schiffbauer spoke during a county commission meeting and described “distress” among residents over news of the future apartment construction.

“People are ready to put out ‘for sale’ signs” on their homes, Schiffbauer said, warning commissioners that if wasn’t there speaking on behalf of his neighbors, a seething mob might be.

Yet as County Commission Chairman Ron Cross notes, and as the county’s planning director verifies, those future apartments have been part of the overall Riverwood plan since 2005.

In fact, shortly after the approval of the Riverwood Plantation West plans seven years ago, this newspaper applauded the “spirit of compromise” between the neighborhood’s developers and community residents who hammered out their agreement for the 1,500-acre second phase of Riverwood.

The developers, in fact, have all but bent over backward to accommodate neighborhood concerns, especially for traffic congestion. Remember: Gen. Wood Parkway, which provides the second entrance into the Greenbrier schools, was built entirely with private money by the developer to ease concerns about safety and gridlock. That was a pretty big bone to throw in an effort to reassure existing residents that the neighborhood’s growth wouldn’t overwhelm them.

What the developers haven’t done is continually remind residents that apartments are an integral part of the future plans for the community. But why should they? All those plans were approved seven years ago, and it could be several more years before construction actually starts. As long as the private developer sticks to that plan, it’s up to residents to stay educated on what those plans are and prepare accordingly.

Like many of those residents, we aren’t big fans of apartments. County commissioners, too, have made their dislike of high-density rental housing clear, and only recently let a moratorium on new apartment rezonings expire after slapping new restrictions on future complexes.

But the Riverwood apartments are on the books already. That mob might want to stand down.

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Comments (38)

soapy_725

Rental houses used as apartments

Rental houses in Riverwood Plantation are already being used as apartments. It was just another "bubble". Five vehicles at one house. No room for the garbage can. Just another example of "cluster community" social engineering. Did anyone doubt this was going to happen? Once all lots are sold to the Savannah River, "The New Villages at Greenbrier" will be build at the front entrance behind the Publix "strip mall" and probably on General Wood Pkwy. Then we will begin across Washington Rd west of Windmill Plantation. The HOA covenants will no longer be enforced, except within the "gated portion". We still have several thousand acres on the way to the river. More traffic exiting onto a two lane Washington Rd. already "obsolete" by standards in any other state. But we will build some "three lane bridges", wider cut outs and years later say, (i.e Columbia Rd) "Oh we should have anticipated four lanes". Infrastructure as a last resort.

columbiacountybeautiful

Who wrote this?

A seething mob? Seriously? C'mon. Cliff Shiffbower said nothing about a seething mob. I was at that meeting. He was a very kind hearted individual who was simply asking for help with his endeavors. This comment is a dramatic piece of misinformation that you are sharing with the public. Riverwood Plantation is a prestigious community. No seething mob exists in that place. Give me a break. Who the heck wrote this? After reading this, I want to get a seething mob together to shut down the idea of those apartments. It is news to me. I have lived here all my life. Maybe we need a seething mob to set you guys straight.

Barry Paschal

Authorship

As published in each print edition of The News-Times:

"The institutional editorials ... are considered the opinion of the newspaper management and its publisher and are labeled 'Our Opinion.'"

I, too, was at that meeting. And if you were there, then you also heard Chris (whom I know, by the way) twice during his presentation tell commissioners that he was there specifically because if they weren't hearing from him as a representative, they would be facing a room full of irate residents.

The county hasn't yet posted a link to the video of the meeting, but I'll be happy to point you to it for reference when they do.

columbiacountybeautiful

WOW.

Irate residents are one thing. A seething mob is something totally different. The residents are certainly
irate about the apartments. But they are not a seething mob. Terrible choice of words.

JNMc

Sad

I agree that irate residents are completely different than a seething mob. Most people are irate. Did you bother to ask why? Most residents have just found out about the apartments. This was mostly due to the fact that nothing out in the open showed that apartments were part of Riverwood's master plan. Some were actually out and out lied to when they specifically asked if there were apartments planned and told no, only single family homes. There is also a need for factual information from Riverwood Land LLC as well as the developer that is currently trying to buy the land to put up these apartments. Shedding light on the timeline, types of apartments and how the schools and road will be able to handle all the new residents would go a long way with us.
Personally I am not irate about it all. I don't really want apartments going in because of the schools and traffic. I try to drive my kids to school every day and, as a resident of Riverwood living off of General Wood Parkway, it takes me 15-20 minutes to make a 6 minute trip. This is due to all the traffic coming down General Wood and Riverwood Parkway. If apartments are added then that will only increase this traffic. And that is nothing to be said for Washington Road. The school is already raising the classroom size and an extra 270 apartments (on top of the 100+ single family homes already going in) will over flow that as well.
So when you write an article regarding how the fight is 7 years to late please remember that most of us moved in after that "first fight". When you say it is up to us to know these things then please know that most people asked their realtors and were told "no", or looked at the master plan maps we were given and no apartments are shown. And there have been no developers bending over backwards for us now to give us facts about what is actually happening.
While there is no seething mob to deal with, there are concerned community members that just want answers.

columbiacountybeautiful

Cliff has been fighting for us from the get go

Cliff is an awesome guy. If anyone was a seething mob it would be him. People fear him. He takes great measures to keep his community on the right path. Mosquito's refuse to bite him, purely out of respect. Not the guy to misquote...

Columbia County Resident 2012

Disappointing Article

I appreciate the thought of covering the apartment situation at Riverwood Plantation; however, I do not believe this was the correct approach. Sure, a lot of residents are upset about the development, as many of us were told the "future development" was simply for single-family homes. Sure, Georgia doesn't hold any laws requiring realtors to disclose information such as this, as it's public record. However, I definitely do not believe anyone is a "seething mob". In my opinion, Riverwood residents purchased homes for the quality of life Riverwood offers. There is a shared sense of community among the several neighborhoods nestled inside the development, and the school system is by far one of the best in the county.

However, there are the simple concerns we have with the apartments being built within the next year or so. Our school class sizes are already being increased, and a development of 300+ apartments alarms residents, as we can only imagine how negatively the schools will be affected at this time, since the BOE has been quoted saying, "...the construction of multifamily housing complexes has a substantial impact on the schools in the area and can result in overcrowding situations.". (Appendix page 2, http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9247) Sure, I know apartments are part of a "master planned community"; however, I believe our main question is "Why now?". When our roads and schools are pushed the the maximum limit, why would it sound like a good idea? We're aware Washington Road is to be widened in the near future, but we're concerned the apartments will be built prior to the widened roads or new schools being built. In addition, Sheriff Whittle has been quoted saying "...law enforcement calls per multi-family housing resident are 42% higher than law enforcement calls per single family housing residents..." (Appendix page 2, http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9247). Naturally, residents are concerned for safety and integrity of Riverwood as well. To top these concerns, many residents have spoken with developers, and our concerns haven't been properly addressed.

In my opinion, I think an editorial or informative article detailing the actual pending development with factual information would've been a much better approach to this situation. As a resident, I'm trying to understand the positives of the apartments at this given time, but it's difficult without honest answers.

Lastly, "Cliff" should be changed to "Chris" in the text.

soapy_725

potentially a great community

I am looking at the brochure/map I was given years ago and there are no "apartment communities" listed. We specifically asked what would be build in certain "empty spaces", i.e. the shoppees that were to be build behind Publix. No apartments. LOL. We asked if there was rental property and we were told "No". At some point there will be the "last lots" and they will look like The Village at Greenbrier does right now. Apartments mean Section 8 and we all know it is coming. Usually these rental units are saved for last. Why? Because who would have purchased a $400,000 home behind a strip mall adjacent to apartments. It works and works quite profitably. But RP and EM could care less. Ask anyone who attended the last HOA meeting. They can do what they want, where they want. You can look further to Lincoln Co. if you don't like the weather in CC. Their way or the highway.

Barry Paschal

Direct quotes

Here are the direct quotes from Chris now that the video is up:

"I felt it only proper to address you as an individual, rather than have a lot of loud, upset residents coming to you."
and
"Just to forewarn you: There could be angry people to follow."

Feel free to quibble over the characterization of "a lot of loud, upset residents" and a warning about "angry people" as a "seething mob." That's a non-issue.

Meanwhile, this editorial clearly does not endorse the idea of the apartments. It merely points out that those acting as if it's something new are seven years late to the party, especially if they're complaining to commissioners. Those who believe they've been misled by a real estate agent should consider filing an ethics complaint, but that doesn't change the reality of the plans for the property. (And the developer doesn't need to "buy" any land; they already own it.)

While many of the residents of the community are new, surely some who have been there longer also were part of the compromise discussions prior to the PUD approval in 2005. They should be speaking up, too, to help dispel the notion that these apartment plans are a new idea.

YourNeighbor

Misrepresentation

When I bought in Riverwood 2 years ago I was shown a
"Master Plan" provided by Meybohn Realtor's located in the sales office at the club house. Looking at the open areas I inquired about future developments and was told that those areas were to be single family homes. Now I am pretty sure that when you tell me that, knowing that's not exactly the truth, that to me would be some form of misrepresentation on your behalf. Had I known that a realtor could lie to you and not disclose important information ( even when asked directly) I would have gone to the County and checked the zoning issue myself. Stupid me, I thought the Realtors acting as buyer and selling agents would use some form of Code of Ethics when selling homes. I WOULD NOT have purchased a home in this neighborhood knowing that I would be able to see them from my front yard. That's why people in Riverwood are upset, they were deceived. Why wasn't the approved zoning plan put in the sales office in 2005 as the Master Plan instead of one that has no indication of apartment's on it?

JNMc

re: Direct Quote

Mr. Paschal, if you are going to direct quote someone, you should at least get their name correct. His name is Chris. Not Cliff.
Also I don't believe anyone fighting the apartments now are saying they are a brand new idea. We know (after a lot of research) that it was all set up in 2005. BUT it was hidden from most of the residents of Riverwood who moved in after 2005. We now understand that the sales office and Meybohm realtors showed us maps that were not the whole truth. If anyone suspected they were being lied to then they would have looked to the actual zoning maps to see what everything was zoned for. I guess we all were a bit too trusting in that regard.
Nobody said anything about believing you or whomever wrote the editorial is "for" the apartments. It is just a bit offensive to be called a "seething mob" and the article seems very one-sided.

Barry Paschal

Name spelling is corrected

Name spelling is corrected.

JNMC: Editorials are opinion pieces, and are labeled as such. That, by nature, means they are "one-sided." You're more than welcome to send a letter to the editor with another "side" to cnt@newstimesonline.com.

JNMc

Opinions...Ha

I am aware of what an editorial is. I guess I just don’t get what the opinion is here. That Riverwood residents are an ignorant, seething mob? That we shouldn’t try to find out what is going on in our community because our fate was determined before we even lived here? That developers or the real estate agents don’t have an obligation to tell the truth to people who ask? That we should somehow read the minds of the developer as to what the actual plans are since everything is hidden from us and the developer won’t give us that information?
I guess my conscience just differs from the writer in that I try to have educated opinions. And since the writer didn’t come speak with anyone living in Riverwood before writing this article, apparently he or she is just content to write their editorial the way they did; based solely on their extremely limited knowledge of the people of this community we have here and a few facts that we all already know.

columbiacountybeautiful

Unvalid Quote. Hateful Newspaper.

So let me get this straight. Cliff Schiffbauer said "I felt it only proper to address you as an individual, rather than have a lot of loud, upset residents coming to you."
and
"Just to forewarn you: There could be angry people to follow."

That shows that Cliff was trying to be:
A.) Professional with a number of uncaring, unprofessional county commissioners that aren't sticking up for their residents.
B.) An assertive representative for a number of upset homeowners that he respected so much as to act as their leader.

Now why on earth would you quote him in the newspaper for EVERYONE to read as stating that a seething mob was coming for the county (who just happened to be his loving neighbors). I watched the video! He said nothing of that sort!

I think a public apology should go out to Cliff. He said nothing about a seething mob. Those are very harsh words and I just saw that HE DID NOT SAY THEM. But you quoted him as a newspaper as saying such? Disgusted. Thank you Cliff for being so level-headed when dealing with such garbage. I don't know how you did it. I want to hear from Cliff himself on this. I've been trying to call him all day. I am sure he is terribly offended by the misrepresentation that you gave.

Barry Paschal

Lie, how?

Lie, how? I transcribed exactly what Chris said. (And it's Chris, not Cliff. So clearly you don't actually know him, do you? I do. In fact, I talked to him today. He isn't offended at this editorial. So are you attempting to be offended on behalf of someone who isn't offended - someone you don't even know?)

By the way, "columbiacountybeautiful": Thanks for posting the link, which proves the accuracy of my transcription. The "seething mob" comment is NOT a direct quote. It is a characterization of two different, direct quotes, as transcribed above. But apparently you don't know the difference between a paraphrase and a direct quote.

And considering you also don't even know his name, I'm pretty sure you aren't telling the truth when you say "you've been trying to call him all day," either.

Barry Paschal

To JNMC

This editorial is a direct result of HEARING from residents of Riverwood, over and over, who despite all repeated efforts to spread the news continue to be shocked when they find out that apartments one day will be built in their neighborhood.

How many times do you think will be adequate to remind the residents that apartments were approved in Riverwood seven years ago?

jg129

Decieved

I guess any publicity is good publicity? Thanks for helping us get the word out even if it is in a strange biased way.

There are around nine hundred residents in Riverwood Subdivision and I'll venter to guess that only a third of them are aware of the apartment talk.

Many of the nine hundred residents would not have purchased a home here, had we known about the apartment plans.

What everyone should know is that no matter how, "late we are to the party," we all feel decieved by our beloved award winning community Riverwood and Meybohm.

In life if you don't tell the whole truth, then you are a liar! Just ask Bill Clinton, Sean Payton, or Bobby Petrino.

Instead of stepping up, doing the right thing and telling the residents exactly what the plan is, Riverwood and Meybohm continue to try to sweep it under the rug.

If you were to inquire about buying a house in Riverwood right now and asked to see a map of the community you would be shown a nice green map that only partially shows what the real plan is.

If you make the same inquiry with the county you will be shown the real map that stretches all the way across Washington Road and speaks of Multi-Family develpments.

Right now Riverwood and Meybohm are developing a new section of lots that will not sell very well if potential buyers know about the future apartments that will be adjacent to them. If I were the developer I wouldn't want the apartments talked about either, but it's a little too late to try and hide this from anyone. It's time to tell us exactly what is going on in our community, and then let the chips fall where they may.

We're a far cry from a "sething mob," but we are very concerned about our community, our property, and the integrity of those that represent us.

Chris Schiffbauer represents us well. I'm proud of his efforts and dedication to Riverwood.

YourNeighbor

Hello?

I am still trying to figure out why Meybohm, Riverwood developers, or Barry Paschal himself have not come up with an answer ( statement, etc.. ) on why potential buyer's were lied too. Regardless of it being public record, realtor's representing as buyer and seller agents should have disclosed information when asked.

JNMc

Where are these repeated

Where are these repeated efforts to tell us about apartments?? I have lived here almost a year and have never heard of it. I have friends who have lived here two to four years that have never heard about it.

And I feel it would be adequate to tell everyone who is buying in the area. Even the other subdivisions such as Berkley Hills and Sumerlin as I am sure they will eventually not be able to send their kids to Greenbrier school. When it is hidden is when there is a problem.

Barry Paschal

Thanks, jg129

Thanks, jg129. You get it.

JNMc: Start with the stories we published back in 2005, talking about the development plans, the compromise efforts and the eventual approval of the PUD by the county. Surely some of the residents who worked with the developers on that deal still actually live there, right? It certainly wouldn't be a mystery to THEM that apartments were part of the plan. (I'd have to go back and check again, but I seem to recall there actually are three spots for apartments, including some behind Windmill.)

The most recent mention was in my own column a couple of months ago: http://newstimes.augusta.com/opinion/barry-paschal/2012-02-12/dont-expec...

All I can do is publish the information. I can't help if you don't see it.

And YourNeighbor: If anyone was lied to by a real estate agent, you can pursue an ethics complaint. I don't have anything to do with that. But don't you think this discussion will help people in your neighborhood who are unaware of any of this get a better understanding of what's coming?

Barry Paschal

Here are some links

Here are some links to previous stories on this issue. Most were around the time of the discussion of approval of the plans for the development. Additional references took place last year, and the year before, while commissioners had a moratorium on new apartment rezonings; the planned apartments at Riverwood frequently were featured during those discussions as justification for not allowing further rezonings.

It's certainly understandable that a new resident, who didn't ask questions or who did not receive appropriate answers, would be surprised to find this development was approved seven years ago. But spreading the word by acting as if it's something that is still in progress, rather than a long-ago settled issue, is counterproductive.

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/10/26/new_5518896.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/11/16/new_5704151.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/11/16/let_111605_1121_4.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/11/23/new_5747050.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/12/07/new_5895616.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/12/11/opi_121105_1150_1.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2005/12/18/new_5991015.shtml

http://newstimes.augusta.com/stories/2006/10/04/new_99081.shtml

sunflower_rn

I am a Riverwood resident and

I am a Riverwood resident and I feel that this article sets a VERY Negative tone. As a resident who has lived here only since February of last year I have found it very disappointing that the community I bought into is in fact not what I have expected. We moved here from out of state, no friend and no family here to give us any information about communities etc. When we asked our agent to show us this community we were sold on the idea of the All inclusive community, and I PROMISE you apartments were never mentioned to us in the discussions we had with both our realtor and the closing realtor. We were told to look at the Maps in the Realtor office as reference and at that time there was NO zoning/plans for apartments. The website's map shows no indication of the "true" masterplan. The plan that I have now after a little over a year wasting $300,000 on a home I see what truly lies in the future of my property. The day of our closing. as we were doing our final walk through, standing on my deck in the rear of my home I specifically asked both agents, what would go behind our home, we have woods behind us. We were told single family home possible, but the land was not completely negotiated, as in homes probably wouldnt go in behind us at all. My husband and I were skeptical of this but they reassured us because also there is "green Space" in the woods behind us to we could rest assure no building directly behind us. Now I see clearing of land and yes right behind me homes will go in and across from them apartments. And I ask why when you are specifically asked do you not relinquish the truth.We purchased into this neighborhood for the security of maintaining property value and for this school system. My children already attend these schools that have yet to impress me and are so overcrowded already. I travel 45 minutes to work, my husband an hour and 20 minutes into SC to work to live in a community that is not upholding to our expectations. So am I a part of a "Seething Mob", no but I am an angry resident. And yes my husband and I have discussed seriously and will most likely put our home up for sale, becasue the community we bought into and were promised is a Lie. Thanks

columbiacountybeautiful

Your Stuck!

Sunflower RN, you are stuck. You think someone is gonna give you 300k for your house that backs up to apartments now that the cat is out of the bag? Barry, I do know Cliff. He lives in riverwood. I haven't been able to get him today. Will let you know what he says. I still think you bullied him.

sunflower_rn

I am not completely backed up

I am not completely backed up to where they will be, but I am closer than I would like. there will be a cul-de-sac of single family homes between us.Either way I will take the loss because this is not what I wanted for my family and not why I moved so far away from work. I can live in a small country home for half the cost of this and be happier.

JNMc

OK

OK Barry. You win. It's obvious that there is no arguing with your low opinion of the Riverwood residents. Thanks for the articles from 2005 and 2006. Note to self: if we are ever relocated in the future, remember to not only research the schools, grocery conveniences, other shopping, neighbors, amenities, proximity to places such as museums and zoos, but to also I will apparently need to research all newspaper articles from 5-7 years prior to make sure the developers and real estate agents are not lying about apartments going on.

NrthAugustaSam

Columbia County Commission Times

This paper always covers for the commission almost to the point of covering up.

Barry Paschal

The commission doesn't have anything to do with this story

"NrthAugustaSam," what does the commission have to do with this story? That's just strange.

JNMc: this also isn't about "winners" or "losers." If you or others believe your lack of information about your neighborhood is a result of an ethical violation, take appropriate action. But don't kill the messenger who tells you the apartments were finalized seven years ago.

columbiacountybeautiful

bad ethics

this does seem like a huge cover up for not only the developers but the commission, the county, the newspaper and the real estate team involved. I guess economic decline breeds corruption among "so called" leaders. This whole deal makes me sick to my stomach. The guy I thought was Cliff is actually Chris. It is a terrible shame that you made him as well as the rest of us residents look like a bunch of complainers with no deception. Did you know that this Chris fellow isn't just a guy that lives down the street from me. He is a guy that built his neighborhood park with his own two hands. That includes a brick fire pit, loads of trees and shrubs among many other things. Now my question is why on earth would you put him out to be the bad guy in this situation. He has donated so much to our community. He isn't lying on that video when he says he is compassionate. This guy almost makes me sick because he cares so much about riverwood. He donates so much time and effort into this land. And now, he gets decked with a sucker punch from both the developer and our local newspaper. Disgusting. Chris I hope that you read this thread. But you know what? He probably could care less about this tiff online because he is out getting things done. The way a man that cares about his community should. Shame on you Columbia County News Times for this load of crap. This guy went to the commission for the purpose of getting things done through good business. He will win. He has 700 residents standing behind his back. All of you Riverwood folks, get on the ball. We not only have the developers deception but also the deception of the good old newspaper. What did the residents of Riverwood ever do to anyone? We the residents are the ones who have been deceived and knocked down. You'd feel like the newspaper would have your back on that idea. Well, unless corruption has been bread. You aren't the middle guy in this story either Barry. You gave a very deceptive opinion about us residents. To me, that is a disgrace.

columbiacountybeautiful

by the way

He said:

"I felt it only proper to address you as an individual, rather than have a lot of loud, upset residents coming to you."

and

"Just to forewarn you: There could be angry people to follow."

I agree with his words of truth and so does everyone else in riverwood that is a resident that i know of.

Nothing was said about irate people or mobsters. And you say you don't oppose riverwood? You have a dramatic wordplay on what he actually said. Your wordplay is extremely negative to us. It is almost as if you are trying to pawn us neighbors against the guy who took effort to get some answers. WRONG.

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