Commissioners vote no on CADI, downtown skywalk, Hillcreek rezoning

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The last meeting of the year for the Augusta Commission was a night filled with big decisions.

Commissioners crammed in many last-minute votes on Tuesday, including a no vote on the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative. This means CADI will expire at the end of the year and downtown property owners will no longer have to pay for the service.

The seven people employed by the CADI program will lose their jobs right before Christmas. Supporters of the program are angry that commissioners voted against it since they had a signed petition with 52 percent of property owners who wanted to keep it going.

"We're getting a triple tax, and we're paying more for stuff that should already be done," said Brad Owens, a downtown property manager. "I mean, before the bid, they cleaned the streets. Why shouldn't they clean them now?"

Supporters of the program say they may look at creating a smaller bid district and push for commissioners to approve the program at a later date.

Commissioners also said no to a million-dollar plan to build a skywalk linking the new downtown parking deck to the convention center. The walkway was one vote shy of getting approved.

Some commissioners argue that it will be dangerous for guests having to cross Reynolds Street without it, but others say it's foolish to sink another million dollars into any already-expensive project.

Commissioners also voted against rezoning property behind the Hillcreek neighborhood. People who live in the neighborhood packed the chambers to watch that vote.

The property owner wanted to rezone the land to bring in apartments. Residents living next door say that would increase noise and traffic and lower their property values.

Back in June, commissioners voted to deny the rezoning request, but the property owner filed a lawsuit against the city, saying they had no legal reason to deny it. On Tuesday night, commissioners upheld their original decision, saying no to the apartment project.

"I'm elated," said homeowner Elizabeth Nash. "It's not the end of it. Certainly, the suit will still be pending, but we did prevail today."

Now it will be up to a judge to decide if the city is within its rights to deny the property owner's request.

Another decision made Tuesday night involved The Patch. Commissioners voted 5 to 4 against a plan for a golf course management company based in Virginia to lease the property. The company was going to spend $100,000 of its own money on the course. So, for now, the course remains in the city's hands.

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