BYRON -- City Council will not allow a 54-unit housing development to be built along New Dunbar Road and part of Ga. 49.
The development would have been called Byron Estates and was to contain single-family rental homes. To build it would have required rezoning from commercial to a special class of residential, which the council unanimously refused.
During a public hearing Monday at the council’s regular meeting, the board heard from four property owners who were against, and one for, the development. Byron resident Jim Lowery spoke among those against the project and said he and his wife had invested money in land in the area based on the city’s plan to keep it for commercial development.
The area is part of the what council has designated as the Byron Downtown Development District, which targets commercial development.
Speaking for the development was Eric Moody of Southern Pines Plantation Commercial Group. Southern Pines owns the land that would be sold to Bridgeland Development, LLC, to build Byron Estates.
Moody said council should take advantage of an investor willing to make a $6 million to $9 million investment in the land and who was willing to tackle some of the area’s problems, such as severe water collection and poor drainage.
Lowery and others said the city should stick with its hopes and plans for future development, citing problems the development would cause such as increased traffic, a strain on infrastructure and schools, and spot zoning.
Much of the property to be developed sits across from Byron Elementary School.
“I kind of hoped you would have picked a different site,” said Councilman Michael Chidester. He said the housing development might be a good idea, but not at that location.
Byron Estates was described in the meeting as quality housing for working families by Gary Hammond of Bridgeland Development. He said it was not subsidized housing. The special residential classification he sought from council was R-PUD (Residential-Planned Unit Development).
In other business, council agreed to pay utility costs for lighting at a roundabout being planned by Georgia Department of Transportation at the Ga. 247 Connector and Walker Road/John E. Sullivan Road. They estimated cost at about $300 a month after the roundabout is built.
Council also refused to accept two bids from Byron companies to do maintenance work on city vehicles, choosing instead to allow department heads to oversee the needed qualifications for companies doing work on their department’s unique vehicles. Selection will still have to follow current city practices and department heads are to favor local vendors.