April 26, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's good news for many people living in south Augusta: a controversial housing development there has been called off.
This morning, the Augusta Housing Authority voted to terminate the contract with the developer.
On paper, it looked as if the public housing project was a done deal...but from the start, neigbhors in south Augusta were determined not to let the development into their community. Their very vocal opposition looks to have made a difference.
Denise Hales is one of many south Augusta neighbors feeling like the fight has paid off.
"It was too many homeowners out here complaining," she said.
Denise was one of hundreds of neighbors packing the community meetings in the commission chamber asking developers to back off. Their major concerns were decreasing property values and crime.
The neighbors even hired an attorney after feeling they had been misled about the plans.
This morning, with homeowners looking on, the housing authority voted to terminate the contract with the builders because of all the controversy.
"We feel they have responded to the wishes of the people and they have seen the unfairness involved to the residents that live near the project, and we're just happy they saw it our way," said Sam Nicholson, attorney for the neighbors.
Last week, Augusta commissioners voted against supporting the project, making it harder for developers to get started.
There's no word on what will be made of the property now. The land has already been purchased by the housing authority.
Regardless, Denise says she's happy officials realized her neighborhood was not the right place for public housing.
"I feel that it's really a wonderful thing for them to take that elsewhere on another side of town, because it's just not fair to us homeowners," she said.
Because the housing authority is terminating the contract, they owe the developers between $60,000 and $75,000. That's how much they've already spent.
The housing authority says they are looking to build this type of housing in other areas in Augusta, but the development director tells us they've learned a lesson: always go talk to the community before going ahead with plans.