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Proposed development dominates County meeting

By BETH ALSTON

beth.alston@gaflnews.com

americustimesrecorder.com

AMERICUS — A proposed housing development on Felder Street was a major portion of discussion at the regular meeting of the Sumter County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Local residents Scott and Colleen Anderson addressed the board on the subject. The Americus Planning and Zoning Commission had voted unanimously earlier in the day to recommend to the mayor and Council that the City approve the developer’s request for annexation of almost 12 acres for the 64-unit housing complex.

Colleen Anderson is a partner in Anderson-Bailey Real Estate in Americus.

Scott Anderson echoed what previous speaker Ginger Starlin of the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center Authority said, that the middle class is disappearing here and that major business is not choosing to locate here because of that.

Scott Anderson said the new development will benefit no one but the companies. He said, according to developer Affordable Equity Partners’ pro forma, it will cost $127,000 to build a one-bedroom unit, $150,000 to build a two-bedroom and $199,000 to build a three-bedroom. He said there will be a $178,000 operating budget each year and $78,000 of that will go to Missouri, where AEP is headquartered.

He asked about the $470,000 loan from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“Is this public money? Who’s on the board? Who applied for the loan?”

Mandy Young quickly said that loan is “not being utilized. DCA didn’t recognize that. It couldn’t be a pass-through fund. It was all done legitly.”

Colleen Anderson threw out some figures, using information from the Housing Authority of Americus: there are 480 public housing units in Americus, 716 Section 8 vouchers available, 1,196 possibilities for public housing assistance.

“That’s one for every 26 citizens in Sumter County,” she said. “We are second only to Fulton County with one in 23.”

She said there are 1,250 apartment units in Sumter County in complexes, not including smaller apartment buildings or duplexes and quadraplexes and houses. There are 4,458 vacant residences, she said.

Randy Jones, who owns the property on Felder he wants to sell for the development, said, “This is a private housing project, not public.”

Mandy Young cited the economic impact of another development by Maco, Creekview Commons on Magnolia Street. She said the project manager for that neighborhood lived in the Windsor Hotel for three months and spent about $7,000 each month living here.

Randy Jones clarified that the tax credits associated with this project can be sold and goes somewhere else, “but it benefits the community.”

Commissioner Thomas Jordan asked where all the people will come from making money in an area with no jobs.

Commissioner Clay Jones offered, “They’ll come out of apartments they’re already living in and leave alot to crumble.”

Board Chair Randy Howard asked for some clarification from Chief Tax Assessor Monica Horne on how the tax is collected on such developments.

“The tax is based on the amount of rent paid,” she said.

“Taxes will have to be raised because of stuff like this,” Clay Jones said. “That’s my concern.”

Horne explained that last year, the County had five projects reduced from the tax digest resulting in a loss of about $120,000 in tax revenue.

Commissioner Mark Waddell expressed trepidation about the issue with the road if the City annexes the Felder Street property.

“The road belongs to the County,” he said. “I’m not in favor of that with additional population in the area. I want the City to take the road, too.”

Kimberly Reid, County attorney, said, “The objection here is to show impact on the infrastructure, including law enforcement demands, etc. which is a substantive basis for objection from the County.”

Randy Jones asked if he wasn’t selling the property to a developer with tax credits, would the County allow him to build on his own.

“You’re condemning my property,” he said. “If you don’t do this. You don’t understand. I have property interest in this. This has been in the family for a long time and never developed. It’s important for my future and the future of the property.”

Commissioner Jordan said he still would the same concerns and questions about the development.

“It’s costing a lot of money to fix problems for development that wasn’t done correctly. Too much money is being spent now on things done before by people who wanted to develop their property,” he said.

Commissioners Waddell used Lake Hancock as an example.

“The property’s in the city, the roads in the county,” he said. “There was a tug of war because of the dam.”

Randy Jones tried again.

“If annexation is denied and I want to build on my own, the County will say no?”

“No, not if everything is done the way it’s supposed to be,” Howard said. “We’re dealing with issues at Armory, Lake Collins, Lake Jennifer with the City annexing and leaving the roads to us.”

the project manager for that neighborhood lived in the Windsor Hotel for three months and spent about $7,000 each month living here.

Randy Jones clarified that the tax credits associated with this project can be sold and goes somewhere else, “but it benefits the community.”

Commissioner Thomas Jordan asked where all the people will come from making money in an area with no jobs.

Commissioner Clay Jones offered, “They’ll come out of apartments they’re already living in and leave alot to crumble.”

Board Chair Randy Howard asked for some clarification from Chief Tax Assessor Monica Horne on how the tax is collected on such developments.

“The tax is based on the amount of rent paid,” she said.

“Taxes will have to be raised because of stuff like this,” Clay Jones said. “That’s my concern.”

Horne explained that last year, the County had five projects reduced from the tax digest resulting in a loss of about $120,000 in tax revenue.

Commissioner Mark Waddell expressed trepidation about the issue with the road if the City annexes the Felder Street property.

“The road belongs to the County,” he said. “I’m not in favor of that with additional population in the area. I want the City to take the road, too.”

Kimberly Reid, County attorney, said, “The objection here is to show impact on the infrastructure, including law enforcement demands, etc. which is a substantive basis for objection from the County.”

Randy Jones asked if he wasn’t selling the property to a developer with tax credits, would the County allow him to build on his own.

“You’re condemning my property,” he said. “If you don’t do this. You don’t understand. I have property interest in this. This has been in the family for a long time and never developed. It’s important for my future and the future of the property.”

Commissioner Jordan said he still would the same concerns and questions about the development.

“It’s costing a lot of money to fix problems for development that wasn’t done correctly. Too much money is being spent now on things done before by people who wanted to develop their property,” he said.

Commissioners Waddell used Lake Hancock as an example.

“The property’s in the city, the roads in the county,” he said. “There was a tug of war because of the dam.”

Randy Jones tried again.

“If annexation is denied and I want to build on my own, the County will say no?”

“No, not if everything is done the way it’s supposed to be,” Howard said. “We’re dealing with issues at Armory, Lake Collins, Lake Jennifer with the City annexing and leaving the roads to us.”