North Augusta City Council votes to begin rezoning process for new fire station

Monday, November 18, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - North Augusta's controversial new fire station is one step closer to finding its new home.

City Council voted unanimously Monday night to begin the process of rezoning land at 311 W. Martintown Road. The city wants to change the zoning to "public use" to put the new fire station there.

City officials say they bought the property for $275,000 and closed on it last Friday. Yet, the fight isn't over.

Some who live near the proposed location say they plan to fight back. In fact, the home next door is listed for sale. The homeowner tells News 12 his family can't handle the noise of a fire station.

The stretch of Observatory Avenue and Martintown Road can be loud anyways. But, the city plans to add sirens to it.

"There's a concern about it lessening property values in the surrounding area," said Al Lafavor, who lives nearby. .

He, along with other neighbors, have been fighting to keep this station away from them for years.

"It's just kind of a steamroll the thing,"Lafavor said. "We're gonna build the fire station here, and we'll do whatever it takes to get it done."

Steamrolling, he says, because the city changed its own neighborhood zoning rules during the summer to put the station on the hill.

"It's a process you go through when you face a situation or circumstance. You make change," said North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit. "There's a procedure to do that. We followed the procedure."

The city says its all for better fire coverage. They believe this location protects the most residents across the area.

But, neighbors don't trust that either.

"They've drawn some circles on a map to say where it needs to be within this circle. That's all," Lafavor said.

"Are we sure that it's possible for the trucks to be able to enter, turn around and exit off Martintown Road," said Karen Powell, who lives next door to the lot and voiced her concerns at the council meeting.

The city says the lot will work. But, with $850,000 spent on the previous fire station choice at Flythe/Seven Gables, and $275,000 into this spot, some are skeptical.

"What if they can't do something there? Lafavor said. "I feel like they've wasted a lot of money when they could've built on property they already owned."

Some residents have complained about communication regarding this issue. Some neighbors News 12 spoke with say they didn't even realize the fire station was going there.

The city says the planning commission will send notices out and hold a public meeting before they vote on any rezoning. Council members promised to involve neighbors in the process as it moves forward.