JCBOCC opts against Development Order for Tranquility at Hope School

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    At the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners regularly scheduled meeting on October 22, Amber Barnes, Community Development presented a request for a General Development Order to construct a two 2-story, 16-unit apartment buildings with a vehicular use area, a clubhouse and a splash pad totally 100,104 square feet of impervious area. Barnes said this request did go before the planning commission on October 21 and they recommended approval.
    Commission Chairman Clint Pate asked if anyone in the audience was there to speak for or against the request.
    Local realtor Ora Mock was the first to speak and told the commissioners she was a property owner close to it. Mock inquired if the project was going to be low-income housing project and government subsidized. Barnes advised it would be low-income. Mock said, “I’ve never seen one of those yet go in that did not affect surrounding property. I have a nice piece of property out there that would make a wonderful subdivision and I would not want one of these in the backyard so I do oppose it. It would affect the value of my 80 acres there.”
    Gregory Mock reiterated more of the same, “I’m here with the same concerns my mother has about this. There is some beautiful land out there that can be built for a really nice subdivision and I have the same concern.”
    Commissioner Jim Peacock inquired of Mock about the location of their property. He was advised it was down Hope School Drive, where the ‘L’ is, just south of Hope School. Barnes had a plat and showed those present the location of the property in question.
    Commissioner Eric Hill inquired about any semantics showing the actual look of the apartment complex being proposed. Mary Margaret Farris of Melvin Engineering spoke, “We (Melvin Engineering) did submit elevation drawings of the buildings and they are going to look similar to Orchard Point that is up this way, one of the newest apartment complexes that we have on 73. They are actually really nice, they are going for the green bronze, you know the green building.”
    Hill asked the property owners if they had seen the design of the buildings being proposed. Ora Mock said it was not the design of the building that was her concern. “It’s what projects unfortunately turn into. It only takes one bad apple to ruin a whole barrel.” Farris said the property would be fenced as required by code, a privacy fence. Mock asked if it would be a 12-foot fence with Farris replying it was only required to be six foot.
    One of the property owners from Dove Rest Property, “This will actually affect us directly. It actually bumps up against us one of our tiny homes for the elderly so it definitely impacts our homes and I’d like to also go on record as opposing it.”
    Commissioner Chuck Lockey inquired if there was any way the property owner could work with the other property owners on the height of the fence to put a hider type fence. Farris said, “Where this property is located, it’s actually a cutout of Mr. Baggett’s property so on the west side and the south side, and the north side is bound by Mr. Baggett’s property so the only side that actually touches someone is the Dove Rest parcel of property to the east. It’s the Dove Rest.”
    Lockey asked if there were any considerations or barriers with Farris saying, “To the east there is that big ditch that is there and the trees that are left from the hurricane so that’s a barrier plus we are putting a fence up right there and plus on that side is where the storm water pond will be so there won’t really be any buildings on the east side. They are all on the north and the south which are bound by the Baggett property. There’s 50 foot from the north property line that’s all Baggett until it hits the next owner. They are putting in trees on the property.”
    Commissioner Jim Peacock asked who was going to be living there, if it was going to be low-income, what did they consider low income. Farris said, “It’s HUD housing so they have to meet a certain criteria. I don’t have the actual criteria but they have to meet a certain criteria of how much they make a week. They are two-to-three bedrooms and it depends on the number of people in the household.”
    Farris said they would be leaving a fifty-foot easement so that the road will be left open for access.
    Charlene Rice approached the board, “I am opposed to it only for the fact that I collect rent and I go around to a lot of these apartments and I go to some of these apartments in Washington County that they have and I can’t get over the drug problem that they are having. I don’t want it to reduce the value of the property. I have worked really hard over the last four, almost five years to improve Dove Rest and get a higher standard of people there that are not dealing drugs and are not causing the neighbors problems. We just don’t want anything to cause us to lower our value of what we have worked really hard for. There is going to be a drug problem there.”
    The board went out of public hearing for action on the proposal. Commissioner Jim Peacock made a motion that the Board disapprove the request. Eric Hill seconded the motion. County attorney Michelle Jordan asked the commissioners to state why they were opposed. Peacock said, “My reason being is that we have had several people here tonight who have come forward with their concern about the value of their property and the activities that may accompany this development.” Hill agreed, “Same here.” Motion passed 4-0 to not approve the development order with Dr. Willie Spires not present for the vote.

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