Low-income apartments rejected in WR appeal

Staff writersJuly 24, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Board of Zoning Appeals has sided with residents who opposed a low-income apartment complex near their neighborhood.

In a unanimous vote before a packed crowd, the board decided Tuesday to overturn a Planning and Zoning Commission decision that would have allowed the complex.

“The appeals board followed the criteria set forth in city code ... that the Planning and Zoning Commission should analyze, and (the appeals board) appropriately applied those factors to the instant case and came up with the right decision,” said Bridgette Cooper, a Warner Robins-based lawyer who represented 13 neighborhoods and a nearby gymnastics complex.

Four of the five appeals board members could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening, and board member John Sillers declined comment.

The property is zoned commercial, and in May the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special exception that would allow the 96-unit apartment complex to be built.

The property is located on the northeast corner of Feagin Mill Road and Jerusalem Church Road. Across the street is a neighborhood built in an old pecan grove with homes valued at $300,000 and up, with other upscale neighborhoods nearby.

Chrissy Miner, who lives in the area, said many residents spoke at the meeting against the complex.

Cooper also gave a presentation in opposition. She said her firm, The Cooper Law Firm, examined data from the city related to police and fire protection, crime rates of similar type housing, and property values.

Cooper’s research found the complex would have caused an $18.4 million decline in property values in the area and produced a burden on schools, the police department and fire department that the city wasn’t ready for. It also showed there are more than 400 apartment vacancies and 700 house vacancies of a similar type in the area.

“The only person that’s really going to benefit from this project ... is the land owner who’s selling the property and the developer who’s going to build this project,” Cooper said.

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