Aiken residents protest new development

By: Kate Tillotson Email
By: Kate Tillotson Email

April 25, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---It's a battle of boundaries in Aiken, where a group of homeowners have picketed for six days. They say a developer is overbuilding on Douglas Drive.

On one side of the street are seven homes; on the other, acres and acres of trees.

That's where new homes are planned, and that's where the controversy begins.

"A developer has come onto our street," said John Kelly, a Douglas Drive resident. "He's overbuilding. He putting twelve houses in where seven are."

Across from seven homes, developer Bill Gingrey plans to build twelve.

Gingrey's homes are just 15 feet apart; the ones there now are 50. Gingrey's are 70 feet wide; the others, 100.

Protesters say the two sides of the street just won't match up.

"It almost would look like row homes, duplexes you know? It has that sort of look to it," Kelly said.

Douglas Drive homeowners are also quoting local ecologist Lehr Bresbin who said, "Next to Hitchcock Woods and the Carolina bay, this property is the third most ecological important property in Aiken."

"As a matter of fact, it is a wetland," said Douglas Drive resident Don Swindler.

After the sixth day of picketing, News 12 spoke with Bill Gingrey on the phone. He told us he doesn't own the property anymore. He said he sold it to an unidentified builder.

We also spoke with city councilman Don Sprawls. He calls Gingrey a "replicable builder" and said that "everything he has done has been above board".

Mr. Gingrey is no stranger to this neighborhood. In fact, 22 years ago, he built six homes here--one of which now belongs to John Kelly.

"I put out my hand in friendship, he rebuked it, so he doesn't want to meet with us," Kelly said of Gingrey.

Bill Gingrey calls the protesting "pathetic" and not worth our attention. He also says this is all just a personal attack against him.

Aiken City Council approved Gingrey's purchase of that property, and they also rezoned it for him.

His vision has been scaled back significantly. He originally wanted to build 30 homes. Now, it's just 12.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 28, 2007 at 01:35 AM
    Guy from and whi lives on the South side of Aiken says you do not know what traffic is. Get a grip. What do you want to do implement communism or fascism? What do you think about property rights? When I drive down Whiskey their is no traffic due to the times when I work. I understand that at certain times the traffic is bad but that can be resolved with proper planning with the SC DOT and the City and County if ONLY they would all step and agree to work togehter. Have you ever asked Senator Ryberg what he wouls suggest to imrpove STATE Highways inside the City of Aiken or Rep. Perry or Rep. Stewart? These guys fund the SC DOT and for them to be absent from the debate represents their own failure to perform in office and the media FAILURE to hold them accountable. Vote Dave Allen for Mayor. He will make sure these people respond to us state and local taxpayers. I do not know him but obviously his platform addresses your conern. As for the City I am sure that before he as Mayor agrees to sell city property that he will know how much is being proposed for sale before the CLOSING takes place. Don;t they have attorney's at City Hall to give them good advice?
  • by Transplant Location: Woodside on Jun 23, 2007 at 12:03 AM
    Just how do you propose to stop construction? Is there some new constitutional authority granted to the government to shut down capitalism? What an idiot.
  • by What I think Location: Home Girl fro Aiken on Jun 21, 2007 at 01:09 AM
    Traffic is so bad on the South Side that we should elect anyone that will stop all the new constuction. Period.
  • by Not a tax fan, but then... Location: South Side on Jun 14, 2007 at 06:20 PM
    Jane Page, you really think that 11 homes that haven't been built on Douglas Drive caused our water, sewer and garbage fees to increase? That's a good one! The real reason that growth isn't paying for itself is that the $500,000 plus homes in Woodside and the Horse District are mainly owned by old folks with Homestead exemptions. They only pay a fraction of the taxes we working stiffs pay. I assume that you are one of the rich horse gentry who have trust accounts to pay for your bills, so no bother to you. I have a novel idea: let's only allow a homestead exemption on the first $200,000 of the home's value and then place a sliding tax scale that increases with each $100,000 increment in the purchase price. That way we could collect the tax dollars owed by the wealthy leisure class and pass the savings along to the needy and working class.
  • by dave Location: aiken on Jun 13, 2007 at 05:21 PM
    The city should not be in the business of selling land to developers. Instead of spending 20k paying a consultant to find green space to buy, the city should look at city property for this-no cost.
  • by Jane Page Location: Historic Horse District on Jun 12, 2007 at 06:47 PM
    First City Council gives us the shaft on the rape and pillage of the ecologically sensitive property along Douglas Drive and now they raise our water, sewer and garbage fees. So much for growth paying for itself. It seems that growth costs everybody but the developers who walk away with big money on the backs of us. Thanks again City Council.
  • by Ed Location: Woodside on Jun 11, 2007 at 07:33 PM
    Dave, If you are elcted Mayor, will you please make sure the city knows how much property the city owns before you sell it to some developer?
  • by Adam Smith Location: Aiken on Jun 10, 2007 at 12:53 PM
    You people are foolish!! How on the one hand can you complain about the profit a guy is making on the transaction and at the same time claim it is a wetland? If it was unbuildable, Gingery would not have bought it and would not have been able to sell it!! You winers have no clue about the marketplace or capitalism. It is a real shame that in Aiken, South Carolina we have people who do not understand the function and utility of the exchange of commodities. Always trus the invisible hand!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 9, 2007 at 05:39 PM
    Dave, The only true way to "change the mood" of Aiken City Council is to have Dick Smith and Jane vaughters move out of the city of Aiken. Just think if you actually win, you still have to sit their with those two who hate just about everybody and are against nearly everything. And the nasty way they go about it in the meetings is emberassing for the City of Aiken. I guess that's how you act when you are so frustrated that so many people disagree with you.
  • by Registered Voter Location: Aiken on Jun 9, 2007 at 09:55 AM
    GO DAVE GO!!!! Hay!! Hay!! Ho!! Ho!! Fred Cavanaugh GOT TO GO!!!
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