ADDENDUM: We've now learned that under the new districts drawn for Columbia County Commission and School Board, Damon Cline's residence is in District 1 - not District 2. See the linked story for details.
Theoretically, we could say the first drop of the other shoe for opposition to Magnolia Trace came this weekend when Damon Cline, who works at Georgia Health Sciences University, tossed his hat in the ring for the Columbia County Commission District 2 seat.
He’s also a former newspaper colleague. It’s a small world.
Cline for years has lamented the demographic deterioration of Columbia County, particularly the urbanized area of Martinez where he lives. And like many of his neighbors, Cline really was set off by the Magnolia Trace project.
Never mind that we now know commissioners couldn’t have done a doggone thing to stop the federal-government-enabled “affordable housing” private development now under construction off Old Ferry Road. Some of the neighborhood’s residents are still looking for blood, and Trey Allen happens to represent the district where this latest high-profile us-vs.-them dynamic played out.
Allen also was at Ground Zero for another drama before Magnolia Trace. That was when many of the residents of his neighborhood, Springlakes, fought against Augusta Prep putting lights on its ball field.
The Springlakes homeowners have been at war with each other over the compromise reached in that case (which Allen opposed), but for the most part their politicking has been limited to trying to oust their own neighborhood association’s leadership.
Cline’s challenge to Allen puts a face to the Magnolia Trace opposition, though he’ll have to expand his horizons a bit to appeal beyond the neighborhood’s single burning issue.
A model for such activity would be former County Commissioner Diane Ford, elected exactly 20 years ago this year. Before she ran for office, Ford was a community activist with fairly narrow interests that focused specifically on problems within her Windmill neighborhood in Evans.
Ford managed to parley her community efforts into three terms on the county commission, retiring in 2007 after having been firmly established as a reliable representative for her district.
Ford was replaced by Charles Allen in 2008. Two years later, Allen, along with Trey Allen and Chairman Ron Cross, was one of three sitting commissioners who voted in favor of the meaningless, yet unavoidably meaningful, “affordable housing” resolution that started the Magnolia Trace ball rolling.
Retired from the commission, Ford now works as a secretary for Doug Batchelor – the county attorney who actually was working for the Magnolia Trace developers when he invited Cross and Trey Allen (whose district encompasses Magnolia Trace) to hear a pitch from the developer.
Columbia County is a small world, after all.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)