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Apartment protest is seven years too late

Posted: May 22, 2012 - 11:06pm  |  Updated: May 23, 2012 - 2:13pm

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)

jg129

General Wood Pkwy entrance

I don't see how building the second entrance is an example of how the developer is all but bending over backwards for the residents!
After all, this entrance is the access point for past and future lots, or apartments in the second phase. The developer made a profit off the sale of the lots to the builders, and in turn us, the residents. It makes perfect sense that they would pay for the road to be built if they could directly profit from it!
This entrance is an integral part of the actual plan for the community. The plan that many us of have just heard about in the past month.
I, like many, went by the partial map in the sales office at Riverwood. I honestly believed what I saw.
I guess it's shame on us for believing what they showed us, but it's also shame on them for not telling the truth and showing us the full plan. I never dreamed that I should have gone to the county to get the real story.
I'm happy for your publication that you knew more about my subdivision than I did, but you shouldn't knock the residents because they don't follow your paper or check it for past articles!
This article should have been about the residents being mislead in the most successful subdivision in Columbia County by the largest real estate company in town! That would have been a story!

I understand that we have to pick our battles, but this article is a poor way to inform the public about the current situation at Riverwood Subdivision.

An ethics violation should definitely be filed against Meybohm, as you have pointed out.

That would be another good story due to the large number of residents that were mislead.

Barry Paschal

Wrong target

You guys are off the mark here. You apparently think history started with you, and that's what you're missing. You're also conveniently ignoring the fact that the developers worked with your neighbors seven years ago to work out those future plans, and now you're acting as if it's perfectly OK for future residents not only to be oblivious to those agreements, but to attack the side that's stuck to them.

If you believe there's someone in between who has hidden something from you, complain away - That's a legitimate target, if true. But you can't just dismiss the compromises worked out before you came to the table.

Little Lamb

Puzzled

I was interested in this comment by Sunflower:

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.

What does Sunflower mean by the phrase “All inclusive community”?

It would seem to me that when a developer seeks to build an all-inclusive community, it would mean diversity. You would need to have different sizes of homes, different income levels, and a diversity of retail suppliers. Personally, I do not pay someone to do my nails, but I don't object to each strip mall having a nail salon.

Apartments are a logical inclusion in a community the size of Riverwood.

ChrisSchiff

Good Grief......

So hello everyone. It was nice to have been told about this thread by 7 or 8 neighbors as I was mowing my grass this morning. Looks like a heated argument has been in progress. I am Chris Schiffbauer. I am the one in the video speaking to the commission about keeping my neighborhood well.

Barry does have the right to his own opinion and it does read as if he is against the opinions voiced by my neighbors in Riverwood. As stated by a previous commenter, I did not state ANYTHING about a seething mob in Riverwood. I would like to get that straight first and foremost. You can view that on the video. That was what Barry interprets you guys as. Not me. His opinion. Not mine.

I am trying to do everything I can for those just like me who are unfortunate enough to have been handed this situation. I have had many talks with the developer and it seems that he and Barry have similar ideas. Keith doesn't really care about the 700+ residents in riverwood. Would you being in his shoes? Neither he nor Barry is a Riverwood resident. If the tables were turned however, you might get a different opinion from both of them. These are just opinions though. Opinions don't mean anything.

Solid facts mean something. This news article is far from being a solid fact and that is ok. It is an opinion column. Am I mad about what Barry had to say? No. I could care less. This is his job. If he stirs controversy he has won. And he did just that. Kudos to him. But does it matter?

Residents, your home values are not going to be affected even if the apartments come in. MIT studies show that these apartments will not affect our values. I will fight a battle against EG and Robert on this subject because we were all given a beautiful deception. Will I win? The results surely aren't in my favor but I am going to try. Please don't be alarmed by all of the dirt that has been kicked up in this argument. None of it means anything at all. RN lady, don't put your house for sale. This is a wonderful neighborhood full of wonderful people. If you aren't impressed by the public school system, you may want to go with a private school. Greenbrier is top notch in Columbia County. You won't find a better school system in the area that is public.

Last but not least... Please stop the negativity. Riverwood Plantation is an awesome place. There is no other place like it. Any of you would be ridiculous to think otherwise. I've been here for 4 years now. Do I fight for what is best here? Always. Will I continue to fight for the best for all involved? Yes. So keep your heads up and don't listen to the badgering. Barry, I have no grief with you. But I don't agree with this article. But, your opinion is just as valid as mine. We are all entitled to an opinion. Does it mean anything will be done differently? No.

Best Wishes to All,

Chris Schiffbauer

MissTrial

I am a resident of the

I am a resident of the Riverwood development. It was never brought to my attention or many members of our neighborhood that Riverwood is planning a 350 unit multi-family apartment complex with rent starting at 850.00. As you can appreciate, this is causing major concern among all of us regarding the negative impact an apartment complex will have on: (1) over-crowding of area schools and the resulting decl...ine in the quality of such schools; (2) the safety of current residents; (3) over-crowding of Riverwood common areas; (4) home values in the Riverwood community; (5) road traffic surrounding the Riverwood area and the resulting impact on driver and pedestrian safety.

Based on statements given to me by homeowners; building a 350 unit apartment complex is directly contrary to the material representations consistently made by Riverwood agents and representatives over the past few years. In fact, Riverwood agents, representatives and others acting in concert with Riverwood and/or on their behalf have time and again represented to previous, existing and prospective home owners through various means of communication including but not limited to: websites and master plan maps (including the one located inside the sales office), that these and future properties would be developed as single family homes with the exception of SOME Italian style loft apartments. It seems to me and other Riverwood residents, that Riverwood made these representations in order to attract buyers to the area and drive home sales.

I expected apartments as it is in the zoning, however, there is a difference between a MASSIVE apartment complex and a FEW loft apartments.

jwbholley

To the residents of Riverwood Plantation:

Hi everyone – I’m Butch Holley, Candidate for Columbia County Commission District 3. This opinion article and the circumstances described within it are several of the primary reasons why I decided to become involved in politics. Like many of you in Riverwood, my wife and I built our home in Hardy Pointe Subdivision 9 years ago. We had at first picked out several lots in Riverwood that we considered purchasing, but when we looked at the fact that there was only one entrance/exit at the time we decided that the traffic congestion alone was reason enough to look elsewhere. It was my opinion at the time that the zoning for a single 2 lane road as the only entrance in to Riverwood Plantation should not have been approved. The General Wood Parkway Expansion was definitely an improvement, but with the planned apartments traffic will only continue to increase in volume.
We have several issues at play here. First, the communication between the original zoning approval and what was sold to the community years later is to be questioned. Communication is a two way street, and had our County Commissioner Charles Allen attended a few of your HOA meetings over the years, he could have reminded everyone of the apartments to eventually be built (kind of reminds me of Magnolia Trace). Second, the county commission shouldn’t have let the moratorium on apartment complex development expire. This opens the door for the apartments to be built and for our school systems to carry an even heavier burden. My children and your children will feel the impact as their class sizes increase and the quality of learning struggles to keep up with demand.
As your county commissioner I will stand for the residents of Columbia County. I will attend your HOA meetings and make sure that I share “hot button” issues with you before you learn after the fact. It should be of no surprise that our current commissioner Charles Allen hasn’t been involved and conversing with the Riverwood residents and the HOA on this issue. He was the lone commissioner to abstain from voting on the Augusta Prep v/s Springlakes lighting issue last year. When asked why he wasn’t voting, his reply was that “he didn’t want to”. There you go, another piece of the non-communication puzzle between the residents of Columbia County and the people that we elect to represent us is exposed.
I pledge to represent everyone in Columbia County in a manner that will reflect trust, fairness, and true servant leadership. As I am now, I will continue to be involved in our community and stand for the responsible growth of our county. I would be humbled to be elected as your County Commissioner. Please remember to vote July 31.

Butch Holley
Candidate
Columbia County Commission District 3
www.HOLLEY2012.com

Barry Paschal

Thanks, and a correction

Thanks for joining the conversation, Butch. It's an important topic.

One correction: The apartment moratorium applied only to requests for rezonings for land for new apartment complexes. It did not affect the planned Riverwood apartments because the zoning already was in place. In fact, the Riverwood apartments were cited as part of the justification for the moratorium, as they were used to make the case that there already were enough apartments in the pipeline.

MissTrial

I just got off the phone with

I just got off the phone with a Meybohm representative and the apartments are coming. Here are some things that he told me needed to be clarified.

First, the apartments will never ever be Section 8 Housing and the Developer is happy and willing to provide this assurance in writing.

Second, Meybohm is a respectable company as are their agents. He informed me that neither he nor the agents had any knowledge of the apartments until the first of this year, as a contract to build them did not exist yet. So, they were not trying to deceive anyone when they sold us homes in Riverwood.

Third, he assured me that Meybohm and their agents are disclosing to potential homebuyers that apartments are part of the Riverwood community.

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