Controversial, low-income neighborhood in Martinez almost ready

Magnolia Trace is almost ready for residents to move in. (WRDW-TV)
Magnolia Trace is almost ready for residents to move in. (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 First at Five / Monday, Nov. 19, 2012

MARTINEZ, Ga. -- It's been nearly a year since a controversial neighborhood in Martinez made headlines. Now, Magnolia Trace is almost ready to move people in.

Last year, hundreds packed the commission chamber as tempers flared. Magnolia Trace and its 50 rental properties are almost built and already have more than 350 inquires, but it's still concerning some neighbors.

"The pool was right here," explained Rodney Martz.

Last year, 82-year-old Martz had a pool in his back yard.

"We figured it would be better not to have the swimming pool," he said.

He and his wife decided to fill it in when construction started just feet away from his home for Magnolia Trace, a low-income rental neighborhood.

"I've decided to put up trees that will eventually be tall and grow together and afford me some privacy here," Martz said.

And Rodney isn't the only one making changes. He says some neighbors have put their homes up for sale.

"Some are trying to move out, trying to sell their homes, they won't sell," he said.

Last December, nearly 300 people from the Martinez neighborhood showed up to argue that 50 homes on 15 acres would raise crime, drop home values and strain schools.

"In low-income, government-supported properties, there's no sense of ownership," Martz said.

"A few of them still have those same concerns and until it actually is up and running, I think that's going to be the case," said Columbia County District 2 Commissioner Trey Allen.

The land was already zoned for a neighborhood, meaning commissioners did not have to approve it, but they did endorse the development in 2010.

Commissioner Allen says he's visited successful developments in other cities, like Macon.

"It's looking like a really nice development," Allen said. "I fully expect that it will be a benefit to the entire area."

For Martz, he and his wife will just wait and hope for the best.

"We're going to stick it out, see how it goes. There's just no enthusiasm anymore," he said.

News 12 checked with the private development company, which operates out of Missouri. They plan to start renting the homes at the end of December or the first of the new year.

If you're interested, they plan to be here and have an office set up to take applications sometime in December. They have a waiting list and already have 350 inquires.

There are strict qualifications about income, employment and family size. For more information on how to get on the wait list, you can call 1-800-424-0338.

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