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Growing pains are part of the county's success

Posted: August 3, 2013 - 11:06pm

Columbia County’s rapid growth is great boon for this region’s economy and an attraction for businesses seeking to benefit from the concentration of pocket books filling up our neighborhoods.

By and large it is a good thing. It is what we all want. Growth is what drives jobs and business. It funds our schools and creates opportunity. I think everyone will agree on those points.

But our success also brings on growing pains.

I saw a little evidence of this at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting. The board was presented with approval of preliminary plats in five subdivisions for a total of about 160 lots for new homes. Officials tell me this number of requests is not uncommon and the number of new homes going up is on a steady rise.

Most of these plats sailed through with little discussion. But then came Tom Warner and a request to build an additional 55 lots in Summerlin, off of William Few Parkway.

This is planned to be the final phase of the 350-home development. The preliminary plan was approved, but with the stipulation that Warner make some changes to William Few Parkway at the entrance to allow for traffic congestion.

Warner had some concerns. He estimated the road alteration could cost him as much as $400,000, which he said would have to be spread over the costs to build on each of the new lots, adding about $7,000 to each new home.

His problem is that he had already built about 300 homes in Summerlin. Had he known the road alterations would have been needed when he started several years ago, the cost could have been spread over 350 homes, not 55.

The board was sympathetic, but said it would have to be done. It was a safety issue. Matt Schlacter, the county’s director of construction and maintenance, said according to a traffic study, residents were already making about four times the number of left turns out of the subdivision than traffic planning normally allows.

It wasn’t something that seemed as important 10 years ago, but now planning officials say these types of conditions will be the norm for new developments.

Warner said such conditions might force him to forgo developing the lots at all.

It’s a tough call. But it’s the kind of thing our officials will continue to face as more rooftops are added and more roads are filled with traffic, these things will need to be weighed.

What is fair to developers like Warner? What is fair to the rest of us?

Those who make these decisions have plenty to think about as this county prepares for what looks like another big surge in coming years.

But it’s not just on them; it is our responsibility to pay attention to these issues and influence the process. We will have a say in how this county will develop. We want growth, but how much, how fast and with what costs?

Those are questions everyone gets to answer. Make sure you are part of the conversation.

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Comments (10)


Sorry Mr Warner. CC enginering does infrastructure as reaction

not as pro action. Planning for swamp drainage and roadways that can handle "urban sprawl" come after the fact. They knew you and others were building hundreds of homes on William Few Pkwy for years. They made some patch improvements to a cross county highway that should have been four/five lanes before the sprawl. Louisville/Hereford Farm as well. But that would be planning. Some of this is a GA thing. Go to any other state and you see roads and bridges in advance of "grid lock". In CC we have to have major five lane roads ending at a two lane road with an hour of congestion for years before someone finds "the money allocated for infrastructure". Are the leaders saving us money? I'll bet they say, "fixing the problem is less costly that planning to eliminate the problem in the first place". Follow the MONEY and you will find the TRUTH.


Cost To Enter The County

It seems logical to up the cost of entering the county when people are lined up to buy in one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. This is one way.


What about the other

What about the other developments directly across the street and next door? Wouldn't it be more fair and less expense for everyone to spread the cost amongst three instead of just one? If the rules are going to be changed midstream, certainly the brand new development across the street should be included.


This doesn't surprise me

from Mr. Werner whatsoever. I've lived in Summerlin for 3 years and watched him at work. He makes promises to homeowners he doesn't keep. When asked to fix problems within the neighborhood it is like pulling teeth to get him to do it, if he does it at all. He's further made a mess of things by giving the neighborhood control of the HOA only to take it back because they stood their ground in asking him to clean up construction trash and fix issues. Now that he has sole control of the HOA funds it wouldn't surprise me in the least if our dues skyrocket to cover this $400,000. Mr. Werner won't take the hit then but the military, veterans, retirees, and young families in this neighborhood will.


Summerlin resident

Mr. Werner was aware of the problem for some time and did have a chance to spread out the costs better. I have seen documentation where the entryway was brought up as a safety problem, both on the main road and inside the four way, which needs a four way stop sign. I have lived in this neighborhood for close to 2 years now. He did dissolve the HOA for no valid reason, except he did not want to deal with the complaints of trash, flooding, and badly done landscaping and construction which has required replacements in a subdivision not even a decade old in it's oldest parts and most of the neighborhood is less than 2 years old. I wish to know who's brilliant idea was to plan 350 house development with only one entryway or exit? The county also needs to come take a look at the detention pond. Is 10 foot deep cracks in the lining a good thing? What about large trees and weeds being let grow unchecked in the pond? Is silt filling up drains a good thing? Somehow I don't think so. We need more people keeping an eye on these developers. We have no trees, or rocks, or even speed bumps to slow down water erosion. I have no problem with any company wanting to make a profit, but do it once and do it right. Don't scam the people because poor planning lead you to have to fix an area the second time around. You planned on leaving this community holding the bag, and because of the economy those choices are coming to the light before you could take the money and run. Oh, and also Mr. Werner is a CEO of not only the developer Santa Monica LLC, he's also a CEO of Pierwood Construction. So he gets two paychecks from this community.


Mr Warner is not giving the

Mr Warner is not giving the correct facts. He told the original HOA board that it was up to the HOA to put pressure onto our lawmakers to make the changes to our entrance and he had nothing to do with it. I have documentation on that. He has dissolved our HOA board because he has not felt appreciated for all the "improvements" he has made to our Summerlin subdivision. Planting a few trees is nice but come on. I was the original president of the HOA and have lived in Summerlin for 7 years. Some of Mr Warner's comments strike me as very interesting.

Tony LaFauci


I agree with LaFuauci

We were called ungrateful as a community for improvements that consist of a little bit of landscaping. The noticeable improvements such as the Community Sign Board and Dog Poop stations were put in by the HOA not the developer. Most of us homeowners were just asking for things we were promised when we moved in, things that are on par with the neighborhoods around us. Mr. Werner uses the "facts" that are convenient at the time.


Buyer Beware: Nice people but NO amentities.

The "open house" realtors that represents the builders and developer here promised prospective homeowners that this community would have a playground and clubhouse on par with communities in the area and Grovetown in similar price ranges.They were told that these amenities would be located in this final phase. Many people, including my family, bought their homes with this expectation. We did not expect lavish amenities, but a basic gathering place for homeowners and a playground for the children did not seem unreasonable. However, when Mr. Werner submitted new plans to the county for his final phase, he took dirt from the hillside and dumped it into wetlands after doing a "study" that showed the wetlands had decreased...and at the time of the study, there had been a seven year drought. The only commodity given to this community was the lot made from him moving his dirt on site, which saved him tens of thousands of dollars than disposing of the dirt off site. Then he told residents that he did it as a "favor" to the community and that had cost him money. When the dismissed HOA had engineers look at the land in order to gather estimates on a park, it was discovered that only simple structures could be put on it as the land was too unstable for anything more than a gazebo and would take nearly $20K just to get it ready to be turned into an open and sodded field with water and power lines. For several years, past HOA boards tried to ask for a lot for a clubhouse, they were first told that they had to buy the lot for nearly twice the land value. At the time, the HOA didn't even have the money to purchase the land even if it wanted to, and Mr. Werner knew that. Now Mr. Werner has all of the HOA monies seized and I wonder how much will suddenly go towards the "improvements" ordered by the county. Now Mr. Werner has a new threat with a new subdivision coming up across the street with lower starting prices and more amenities. Good luck with that, Mr. Werner.


USA Soccer

We are desperately waiting for upcoming match between USA and Turkey on 1st june and have booked usa turkey soccer tickets and we are happy that USA will win this game.