LEESBURG, Ga. -- The fate of a proposed 240-unit gated, upscale apartment complex in Lee County is expected to be decided by the Lee County Commission at its regular meeting on Aug. 28.
Flint Ventures Inc. wants to build Flint Ventures Apartments on a 29-acre tract of land on the east side of Georgia Highway 133. The site is about 1,120 feet south of Forrester Parkway and is currently zoned C-2 for general business.
Jim Bacon, who represented Flint Ventures Inc. during the County Commission's work session Tuesday night, said the company purchased 322 acres in 2005 with the intention of developing the land commercially.
Bacon said opportunities to develop the land commercially have not developed. The owners recently sold about 200 acres of the land for use as a pecan orchard.
Bacon contends the added population the new apartments likely would "jump start commercial development in the area." He said the development could have as much as a $4.4 million impact to Lee County's revenues over the next 10 years. Bacon said the company now pays $1,304 a year in property taxes. Over a decade, that is $13,040.
If developed as apartments, Bacon said, the construction cost is estimated at $23 million. Recurring water and sewer fees would be $1.584 million over 10 years and property taxes would be about $2.5 million. The local option sales tax on construction, he estimated, would be $360,000.
If the commission approves the rezoning to R-2 Multi-family residential, Bacon said that the complex would be built by Graystone Development in Columbus, which already manages Creekwood Apartments in Lee County.
The company has about 2,300 apartment units in the Columbus area.
Paul Hinman with Graystone Development said the complex would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with the units being larger than most apartment units in the area.
For example, one-bedroom units would have between 900 and 1,100 square feet while two-bedroom units would be 1,300 to 1,460 square feet and three-bedroom units would have 1,625 to slightly more than 1,700 square feet.
Rents would be on the upper scale for the area.
Conversely, John Nix, an attorney who specializes in zoning matters and who spoke on behalf of the planning department, said rezoning the property would make it an island in an area otherwise zoned for commercial development.
"It would be a track in isolation with no connection to the overall development," Nix said.
Nix said adding the apartment complex would impact the sewer system by causing the lift station to be near capacity.
The plan when the lift station was installed was to support commercial growth, not residential growth, Nix said. "It (the apartment complex) would gobble up the commercial availability," Nix said.
Nix said projections show the complex would increase the number of students in Lee county public schools by 160 students, a figure that he says translates to about one year of normal growth in the school system.
He further said the complex would add to traffic problems in the area. He said emergency responders would be hampered going to the site because it has just one access point. Nix said the proposed apartments are not in concert with the county's land use plan. Deviation from the overall plans causes long-term harm, he said.
Bacon said Flint Ventures is willing to participate in upgrading the sewer capacity. He also said the projected growth in students would be closer to 60 t0 65 students.
Commissioners did not discuss the issue at Tuesday night's work session after the presentations by Bacon and Nix.