A historic but dilapidated Grovetown home likely will be demolished to make way for an apartment complex if a variance request is approved at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Thursday.
ATC Development, an Augusta apartment-construction and management company, is under contract to purchase eight acres on Woodward Avenue at Dodge Lane, behind the Charter Communications office and Michael's Laundry on East Robinson Avenue.
"Just in our research over the past few years, we've noticed that the Grovetown area has had a lot of growth," said Shelly Martin, ATC regional property manager. "From what we can tell, there's not a whole lot of options in that area for rental living. ... So we'd like to give the city a real nice alternative for people who aren't ready to purchase a home yet but want to be in that area."
The property owned by Martha Bryan has several mobile homes; a small, overgrown cemetery; and a two-story home known as the Woodward-Hill house, said Connie Smith, Grovetown Planning and Zoning director.
ATC Development officials are asking that the density requirements on the property be reduced. It is currently zoned multifamily residential, which would allow about 120 units. If the variance is denied, Smith said, the company would be allowed to build only about 80 units.
The home, once nicknamed the Eagle's Nest, was built by pioneer settler Joseph Hill in 1866, according to the city's comprehensive plan. It was later owned by the H.U. Woodward family and "is believed to be one of the oldest and finest homes in Grovetown," Smith said, citing the comprehensive plan.
The house has been vacant for several years and is in such disrepair that it is uninhabitable, Smith said.
"With there being no historical society ... there's nothing that can be done if (they) decide to remove the house," Smith said.
Martin said preliminary plans call for removal of the home and restoration of the small cemetery on the property.
A descendant of one of the families who lived in the home has contacted ATC Development about the possibility of relocating the house.
"We certainly wouldn't have any problem with someone relocating it," Martin said. "We would welcome that."
Grovetown historian Charles Lord, who provided much of the historical information about the property for the comprehensive plan, said there are several marked and unmarked graves in the cemetery, and he believes there are graves on the property outside the cemetery.
Smith said the developer could be required to have a site survey done to locate unmarked graves to ensure that they aren't turned up during construction.
If the variance request is denied, Martin said, the company is not obligated to buy the property.
The public meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
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