By Joel Hall
After more than a year of debate among the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, land developers, and Lake Spivey residents, the BOC approved plans to build a new, 128-home subdivision on nine holes of the Lake Spivey Golf Course.
Under the current plan, the remaining 18 holes of the golf course will be preserved as a perpetual greenbelt, while five Lake Spivey property owners will have their land encroached upon by new development.
The plan's original BOC approval -- which came in February of last year -- came under fire due to the fact that it was approved without going through a formal zoning process.
In March, the BOC reconsidered the plat approval, after ordering the developer to go through a formal zoning process. After tabling the decision for a month, the BOC unanimously approved the plan on Thursday, but not before adding 14 stipulations not included in the original plan.
The stipulations apply to the types of houses that can built, their size, the materials that can be used, and the landscaping around them. These include making sure all houses are a minimum of 2,700 square; prohibiting vinyl siding; creating 12-foot minimum golf cart paths, and making home owner's association membership mandatory.
The houses are expected to start in the $300,000 range. Commissioner Michael Edmondson, who motioned for the approval, was pleased with the decision. "The community has formed a position overwhelmingly of support," said Edmondson. "The county commissioners have worked together with the developers to come up with a list of stipulations that are agreeable to all. I think the price point and proposed quality development will be a breath of fresh air for Clayton County."
Prior to the approval, developer Jay Byce said if the board did not approve the plat, he would seek to recoup his investment by purchasing the entire golf course and building houses with larger lots. Edmondson believed preserving two-thrids of the course and building on a third of it was a better alternative. "I think a community with a golf course is better than a community without a golf course," he said Edmondson.
A large number of Lake Spivey residents cheered when the BOC gave its approval at Thursday's meeting. However, a few residents are not happy with the decision.
"We are not happy and this battle is not over," said Ann Bohanan, an 18-year Lake Spivey resident and one of the five property owners losing their view of the golf course. "My property is going to be affected to the tune of $60,000."
Bohanan accused the BOC of ignoring its zoning codes by not ensuring a buffer between the five existing lots and the new subdivision. She also believes the process in which the BOC approved the plat was flawed. "We have no buffer, because they took away the green hillside," said Bohanan. "[The BOC] wrote [the zoning ordinance], but they are not adhering to it. They screwed up in February when they approved [the plat] ... that's why they are reconsidering it."
Bohanan called Byce's suggestion to develop on the entire golf course "an idle threat." BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell, however, said the suggestion "was reality" and that golf course owner, Joe Hamilton, had full rights to sell the course to a developer.
"Originally, their plan was to build more houses," said Bell. "Through the efforts of the county ... we were able to scale it back a bit. By and large, my vote was simply because the majority of the citizens that live in my neighborhood and adjoining neighborhoods called upon me to approve it."
Byce said he was satisfied with the stipulations and said the approval will allow the development of the subdivision to get back on schedule. "There are a few added conditions, but I can live with everything," said Byce.